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EXPERIMENT 



TIME 



J.W.DUNNE. 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 



AGENTS 

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North beach Road, madras 



AN 

EXPERIMENT 

WITH TIME 



BY 



J. W. DUNNE 



SECOND EDITION 




A. & C. BLACK, LTD. 

4, 5 & 6 SOHO SQUARE, LONDON, W. 1 

1929 



Printed in Great Britain. 



CONTENTS 



Definitions 



PART I 



I'AGE 
I 



The Puzzle 



PART II 



29 



PART III 



The Experiment 



49 



PART IV 

Temporal Endurance and Temporal Flow 



9i 



PART V 



Serial Time 



123 



First published in March, 1927 
Second Edition published in 1929 



NOTE ON THE SECOND EDITION 

The reader will find on -page viii an extract from 
a letter written by Professor A. S. Eddington, the 
distinguished mathematical- physicist and Relativist. 



As first published, "An Experiment with Time " 
contained one or two unimportant and very obvious 
typographical errors. These have been corrected. 
In addition, a few slight changes have been made 
in the text proper ; but these, as will be seen from 
the subjoined list, serve merely to accentuate — 
without modifying — the meanings of the several 
sentences concerned. 

Page 25, line 26: "Association between the images" is 

altered to " Association between the dream-images." 
Page 36, line 20 : " supposed " is altered to " declared." 
Page 36, line 32 : " 4,000 " is altered to " arrangement of 

fours and noughts." 
Page 133, line 31 : " any such motion " is altered to " any 

appearance of motion to any observer." 
Page 137, line 9 : " The movements " is altered to " The 

to-and-fro movements." 
Page 137, line 12 : " for observation " is altered to " for 

such observation." 
Page 143, line 26: "our ultimate observer" means, as the 

context shows, " the ultimate observer we are hunting 

down." It was, however, taken by one critic to mean 

" the observer of us." For this reason " our " is altered 

to " the." 
Page 149, line 7 : " form planes" is altered to " form vertical 

planes." 
Page 149, line 10 : " similar " is deleted. 
Page 198, line 7 : " upwards in " is altered to " upwards and 

downwards in"; "upon" is altered to "from." 

v 



vi NOTE ON THE SECOND EDITION 

Explanatory footnotes have been added to pages 
107, 116, and 198. The last of these is the only 
one of real interest. 

The short concluding section of Chapter XXIV . 
has been italicized. It is of considerable importance 
to the proper understanding of the theory, and it 
seems to have been frequently overlooked. 

*7P rJr TT TT TT 

It has been rather surprising to discover how many 
persons there are who, while willing to concede that 
we habitually observe events before they occur, 
suppose that such prevision may be treated as a 
7ninor logical difficulty, to be met by some trifling 
readjustment in one or another of our sciences or 
by the addition of a dash of transcendentalism to 
our metaphysics. It may well be emphasized that 
no tinkering or doctoring of that kind could avail in 
the smallest degree. If prevision be a fact, it is a 
fact which destroys absolutely the entire basis of 
all our past opinions, of the universe. Bear in mind, 
for example, that the foreseen event may be avoided. 
What, then, is its structure? 

I would suggest that we are lucky, on the whole, 
to be able to replace our vanished foundations by 
a system so simple as the ' ' serialism ' ' described in 
this book. 

Anyone who hopes to discover an explanation 
even simpler would be well advised to examine his 
own statement of the difficulty to be faced — viz., 
that we '''observe events before they occur." Let 
him ask himself to what time-orde? does that word 
" before " refer. Certainly not to the primary time- 
order in which the occurring events are arranged! 
He may see then that his statement {and every 
expression of his problem must bear that same 



NOTE ON THE SECOND EDITION vii 

general form) is in itself a direct assertion that Time 
is serial. 

If Time be serial, the universe as described in 
terms of Time must be serial, and the descriptions, 
to be accurate, must be similarly serial — as suggested 
in Chapter XXV . If that be the case, the sooner 
we begin to recast physics and psychology on such 
lines, the sooner may we hope to reckon with our 
present discontinuities and set out upon a new and 
sounder pathway to knowledge. 

J. W. Dunne. 



Extract {by permission) from a letter written by Professor 
A. S. Eddington. ("Minkowski's world," referred 
to therein, is the "space-time" world adopted by 
Einstein for the purpose of his theory.} 



1 ' I agree with you about ' serialism ' ; the ' going 
on of time ' is not in Minkowski's world as it 
stands. My own feeling is that the ' becoming ' 
is really there in the physical world, * but is not 
formulated in the description of it in classical 
physics (and is, in fact, useless to a scheme of laws 
which is fully deterministic). 

' ' Yours truly, 

"A. S. Eddington. 
" Observatory, 
" Cambridge, 
" 1928, Feb. 1." 



* Author's Note. — This, I think, no Serialist can deny. 
The inclined line O'O" in Fig-. 9 is, clearly, as objective to 
the observer as are any of the vertical lines in that diagram. 
The fact seems to be that what is abstract or mental to the 
first-term observer is concrete or physical to him in his 
second-term outlook. 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 



PART I 

CHAPTER I 

It might, perhaps, be advisable to say here, — since 
the reader may have been glancing ahead, — that this 
is not a book about "occultism," and not a book 
about what is called "psycho-analysis." 

It is merely the account of an extremely cautious 
reconnaissance in a rather novel direction, — an 
account presented in the customary form of a narra- 
tive of the actual proceedings concerned, coupled 
with a statement of the theoretical considerations 
believed to be involved, — and the dramatic, seem- 
ingly bizarre character of the early part of the story 
need occasion the reader no misgivings. He will 
readily understand that the task which had to be 
accomplished at that stage was the "isolating" (to 
borrow a term from the chemists) of a single, basic 
fact from an accumulation of misleading material. 
Any account of any such process of separation must 
contain, of course, some description of the stuff 
from which the separation was effected. And such 
stuff very often is, and in this case very largely 
was — rubbish. 

The fact which has emerged in the present 
instance is precisely what, on theoretical grounds, 
we should have expected to find. It fits very nicely 
into its little niche in the system of knowledge ; and 

1 



2 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

it seems, moreover, to possess the attribute against 
which nothing can ever permanently contend — the 
attribute of being clearly and directly observable 
by everyone interested. It is hoped that the present 
reader will take steps to satisfy himself upon this 
point. 

* * # # # 

There does not appear to be anything in these 
pages that anyone is likely to find difficult to follow, 
provided that he avoids those occasional paragraphs 
in smaller print which have been written more par- 
ticularly for specialists. And Part V. may require 
reading twice. But there are a few commonplace 
semi-technical expressions which will crop up now 
and again ; and it is always possible that other people 
may be accustomed to attach to these words mean- 
ings rather different to those which the present writer 
is hoping to convey. Any such misunderstanding 
would result, obviously, in our being at cross-pur- 
poses throughout the greater part of the book. 
Hence it might be advisable for us to come to some 
sort of rough preliminary agreement, not as to how 
these terms ought rightly to be employed, but as 
to what they are to be regarded as meant to mean 
in this particular volume. By so doing we shall, at 
any rate, avoid that worst of all irritations to a 
reader — a text repeatedly interrupted by references 
to footnote or glossary. 

That the agreement will be entirely one-sided will 
make it all the easier to achieve. 



CHAPTER II 

Briefly, then : 

Let us suppose that you are entertaining a visitor 
from some country where the inhabitants are all 
born blind; and that you are trying to make your 
guest understand what you mean by "seeing.'' 
You discover, we will further assume, that the pair 
of you have, fortunately, this much in common : 
You are both thoroughly conversant with the mean- 
ings of all the technical expressions employed in 
the physical sciences. 

Using this ground of mutual understanding, you 
endeavour to explain your point. You describe 
how, in that little camera which we call the " eye," 
certain electro-magnetic waves radiating from a dis- 
tant object are focussed on to the retina, and there 
produce physical changes over the area affected; 
how these changes are associated with currents of 
" nervous energy " (possibly electrical) in the criss- 
cross of nerves leading to the brain-centres, and how 
molecular or atomic changes at those centres suffice 
to provide the "seer" with a registration of the 
distant object's outline. 

All this your visitor could appreciate perfectly. 

Now, the point to be noticed is this. Here is a 
piece of knowledge concerning which the blind man 
had no previous conception. It is knowledge which 
he cannot, as you can, acquire for himself by the 
ordinary process of personal experiment. In sub- 
stitution, you have offered him a description, framed 
in the language of physical science. And that sub- 
stitute has served the purpose of conveying the 
knowledge in question from yourself to him. 

3 



4 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

But in " seeing " there is, of course, a great deal 
more than mere registration of outline. There is, 
for example — Colour. 

So you continue somewhat on the following lines. 
That which we call a " red " flame sets up electro- 
magnetic waves of a certain length: a "blue" 
flame sets up waves exactly similar save only that 
they differ slightly in this matter of length. The 
visual organs are so constituted that they sort out 
waves showing such disparity in length, and this in 
such a way that these differences are finally regis- 
tered by corresponding differences in those physical 
changes which occur at the brain centres. 

From the point of view of your blind guest, this 
description, also, would be entirely satisfactory. 
He could now understand perfectly how it is that a 
physical brain is able to register wave-length-differ- 
ence. And, if you were content to leave it at that, 
he would depart gratefully convinced that the lan- 
guage of physics had again proved equal to the task, 
and that your description in physical terms had 
equipped him with a knowledge of, for instance, 
what other people call "red " as complete in every 
respect as that which they themselves possess. 

But this supposition of his would be absurd. For 
concerning the existence of one very remarkable 
characteristic of red he would still, obviously, know 
nothing whatsoever. And that characteristic (pos- 
sibly the most puzzling, and certainly the most 
obtrusive of them all) is — its redness. 

Redness? Yes. Without bothering about whether 
redness be a thing or a quality or an illusion or any- 
thing else, there is no escaping the fact (i) that it 
is a characteristic of red of which you and all seeing 
people are very strongly aware, nor the further fact 
(2) that your visitor, so far, would have not the 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 5 

faintest shadow of an idea that you or others experi- 
ence anything of the kind, or, indeed, that there 
could exist anything of the kind to be experienced. 
If, then, you intend to complete your self-imposed 
task of bringing his knowledge on the subject of 
"seeing" up to the same level as your own, there 
remains yet another step before you. 

Realizing this, you mentally glance down your 
list of physical expressions, and — a moment's 
inspection is enough to show you that, for the pur- 
pose of conveying to your blind guest a description 
of redness, there is not a single one of these expres- 
sions which is of the slightest use whatsoever. 

You might talk to him of particles (lumps, — 
centres of inertia), and describe these as oscillating, 
spinning, circling, colliding, and rebounding in any 
kind of complicated dance you cared to imagine. 
But in all that there would be nothing to introduce 
the notion of redness. You might speak of waves 
— big waves, little waves, long waves, and short 
waves. But the idea of redness would still remain 
unborn. You might hark back to the older physics, 
and descant upon forces (attractions and repul- 
sions), magnetic, electrical, and gravitational ; or 
you might plunge forward into the newer physics, 
and discourse of non-Euclidean space and Gaussian 
co-ordinates. And you might hold forth on such 
lines until exhaustion supervened, while the blind 
man nodded and smiled appreciation; but it is 
obvious that, at the end of it all, he would have no 
more suspicion of what it is that (as Ward puts it) 
' ' you immediately experience when you look at a 
field poppy " than he had at the outset. 

Physical description cannot here provide the 
information which experience could have given. 

Now, redness may not be a thing — but it is very 



6 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

certainly a fact. Look around you. It is one of 
the most staring facts in existence. It challenges 
you everywhere, demanding, clamouring to be 
accounted for. And the language of physics is 
fundamentally unadapted to the task of rendering 
that account. 

It is obvious that dubbing redness an " illusion " 
would not help the physicist. For how could 
physics set about describing or accounting for the 
entry of the element of redness into that illusion? 
The universe pictured by physics is a colourless 
universe, and in that universe all brain-happenings, 
including " illusions, *' are colourless things. It is 
the intrusion of Colour into that picture, whether 
as an illusion or under any other title, which requires 
to be explained. 

Once you have thoroughly realized that redness 
is something beyond a complex of positions, a com- 
plex of motions, a complex of stresses, or a mathe- 
matical formula, you will have little difficulty in per- 
ceiving that Colour is not the only fact of this kind. 
If your hypothetical visitor were deaf, instead of 
blind, you could never, by giving him books of 
physics to read, arouse in him even the beginning 
of a suspicion regarding the nature of "Sound," 
as heard. Now, Sound, as heard, is a fact : (put 
down this book and listen). But in the world 
described by physics there is no such fact to be 
found. All that physics can show us is an altera- 
tion in the positional arrangement of the brain par- 
ticles, or alterations in the tensions acting upon 
those particles. And in no catalogue of the mag- 
nitudes and directions of such changes could there 
be anything to suggest that there exists anywhere in 
the universe a phenomenon such as that which you 
directly experience when a bell tolls. In fact, just 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 7 

as physics cannot deal with the element of redness 
in "red," so is it inherently unable to account for 
the intrusion of that clear bell-note into a universe 
which it can picture only as an animated diagram of 
groupings, pushings, and pullings. 

But if, in such a diagram, there can be nothing of 
either Colour or Sound, is it likely to be of any use 
our hunting therein for phenomena like "Taste" 
and "Smell"? The utmost that we could hope 
to find would be those movements of the brain-par- 
ticles which accompany the experiences in question ; 
or, possibly, some day, the transference equations 
relating to some hitherto unsuspected circuit of 
energy. Your hypothetical visitor and yourself 
might each possess the fullest possible knowledge 
of these brain-disturbances, the most complete 
acquaintance with such energetic equations as may 
still remain to be written ; but, if you could actually 
taste and smell, and he could not, it is incontro- 
vertible that your knowledge of each of these 
phenomena would include something quite unknown 
to, and, indeed, quite unimaginable by, him. 

Now, when we say of any occurrence that it is 
"physical," we mean thereby that it is potentially 
describable in physical terms. (Otherwise the ex- 
pression would be wholly meaningless.) So it is 
perfectly correct to state that, in every happening 
with which our sensory nerves are associated, we 
find, after we have abstracted therefrom every 
known or imaginable physical component, certain 
categorically non-physical residua. 

But these remnants are the most obtrusive things 
in our universe. So obtrusive that, aided and 
abetted by our trick of imagining them as situated 
at our outer nerve-endings, or as extending beyond 
those endings into outer Space, they produce the 



8 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

effect of a vast external world of flaming lights and 
colours, pungent scents, and clamorous, tumultuous 
sounds. Collectively, they bulk into a most amaz- 
ing tempest of sharply-differentiated phenomena. 
And it is a tempest which remains to be considered 
after physics has completed its say. 

Physics. — Nor is this last a matter for wonder- 
ment. For the ideal object of physics is to seek 
out, isolate, and describe such elements in Nature as 
may be credited with an existence independent of 
the existence of any immediate observer. Physics 
is, thus, a science which has been expressly designed 
to study, not the universe, but the things which 
would supposedly remain in that universe if we were 
to abstract therefrom every effect of a purely sensory 
character. From the very outset, then, it renounces 
all interest in such matters as those colours, sounds, 
etc., of which we are directly aware,— matters essen- 
tially dependent upon the presence of an immediate 
observer, and non-existent in his absence, — and it 
limits itself to a language and a set of conceptions 
serviceable only for the description of facts pertain- 
ing to its own restricted province. 

Psychology and Psychical. — But, as scientific 
investigators of the situation in which we find our- 
selves, we cannot, of course, neglect to study a 
mass of phenomena so large and so obtrusive as to 
constitute, to first appearance, the whole of the 
world we know. Consequently, a separate science 
has gradually arisen which endeavours to deal with 
these and other of the rather bulky leavings of 
physics. This science is called "Psychology," 
and the facts with which it deals — facts existing 
only in the presence of an immediate observer 
— are dubbed "mental," or, more commonlv, 
"Psychical." 



CHAPTER III 

Now, although it is scientifically indisputable that 
the brain, regarded as a purely physical piece of 
mechanism, cannot create, unassisted and out of 
nothingness, any of those vivid psychical appear- 
ances we call "colour," "sound," "taste," etc., 
it may be taken as experimentally established that 
these phenomena do not come into existence unless 
accompanied by some stimulation of the corre- 
sponding sense organs. Moreover, they vary in 
character according to the character of the sense 
organ involved : lights and colours accompany 
activities of the optic nerves ; sounds are associated 
with the existence of ears ; tastes with palates. The 
psychical phenomena are different because the sen- 
sory organizations are different. Colour experi- 
ences in man range from violet to deep red, accord- 
ing to the wave-lengths of the electro-magnetic rays 
impinging upon the eye. If that wave-length be 
further slightly increased, the associated psychical 
experience is one of heat alone. But we know that, 
with a very little modification of the sensitive optical 
elements involved, those heat experiences would be 
accompanied by experiences of a visible infra-red 
colour. 

Thus, the physical brain, though it cannot create 
such sensory appearances, is a prime factor in their 
characterization, and, for that reason, an important 
factor in whatever process it may be that causes them 
to appear. 

The situation, thus far, is usually summed up in 
the cautious statement that these particular kinds of 



io AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

psychical phenomena, on the one hand, and their 
corresponding sense-organ stimulations, on the 
other, invariably accompany one another, or run, so 
to say, on parallel tracks in Time. This, be it 
noted, is never advanced as an "explanation" : it 
is merely supposed to be a simple way in which the 
facts can be announced without dragging in the 
various metaphysical creeds favoured by the various 
announcers. 

Psychoneural Parallelism. — The assumption 
that this "parallelism" of psychical and neural 
(nervous) events extends to all observable thought- 
experience — that there is no observable psychical 
activity without some corresponding activity of 
brain — is called "Psychoneural Parallelism" \ the 
activity in either class being referred to as the 
" correlate " of that in the other. 

The accumulated evidence in favour of this view 
is practically overwhelming. Hard thinking induces 
brain fatigue; drugs which poison the brain inter- 
fere with our reasoning processes; brain deteriora- 
tion affects our ability to form new memories. 
Above all, "concussion" of the brain appears to 
destroy all memory of the events which immediately 
f receded the accident — indeed, it is by the failure 
of the patient to remember what led up to that acci- 
dent that the physician diagnoses concussion. This 
provides us with almost indisputable evidence that 
the means of remembering are "brain-traces" 
which require a little time for their assured estab- 
lishment. 

That such brain-traces (insulated paths formed 
by the passage of nervous currents) do, in fact, 
exist, is well known; and, moreover, it has been 
shown that the greater the ability of the individual 
to perform associative thinking, the more numerous 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME u 

and the more complex in their ramifications are the 
brain paths in question. 

Observer. — We have now arrived within intro- 
ductory range of that very meek-spirited creature 
known to modern science as the "Observer." It 
is a permanent obstacle in the path of our search for 
external reality that we can never entirely get rid of 
this individual. Picture the universe how we may, 
the picture remains of our making. On the other 
hand, it is, probably, equally true that, paint the 
picture how we will, we have to do it with the paints 
provided. But there is no reason why either of 
these limitations should invalidate the result re- 
garded as a map by which we may safely set our 
course. Moreover, we can test it in that respect; 
and experience has shown that, thus tested, it proves 
reliable. Therein lies the justification of our search 
for knowledge. 

It is worth noting that, from the study of a pic- 
ture, we may always infer a little about the character 
and situation of the unincluded artist. Science, 
indeed, is often obliged to decide that certain 
changes or peculiarities in what is observed are only 
to be accounted for by inferring changes or pecu- 
liarities in the observer. 

The general procedure, however, in every science, 
is to begin by the accurate tabulating of differences 
in what is observed. If we subsequently discover 
that these differences are due to the character or 
actions of the observer, we can note that such is the 
explanation of the difference and draft our science 
accordingly; but that addition to our knowledge 
does not invalidate our previous analysis of the 
differences as observed. 

All sciences deal only with a standard observer, 
unless the contrary is explicitly stated ; and 



12 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

psychology is no exception to this rule. Its ob- 
server is assumed to be any normally constituted 
individual. And this individual is the same observer 
as is ultimately employed in physics. In what the 
psychologist says about the colours of "after-im- 
pressions," and in what the physicist says about the 
"spectra" of certain stars, this same standard ob- 
server is implicated. And it is assumed that he is 
not colour-blind. 

Now, it must be admitted that the tenets of 
psychoneural parallelism are not very encouraging 
to this "observer." For they suggest that, when 
the brain-workings come to an end, the psychical 
phenomena cease likewise from troubling. More- 
over, the scientific procedure of pushing the ob- 
server as far back as possible — so as to get as much 
as possible of the picture into the category of that 
which is observed — tends to reduce him to the level 
of a helpless onlooker with no more capacity for 
interference than has a member of a cinema audience 
the ability to alter the course of the story develop- 
ing before him on the screen. Nor is there much 
more comfort to be obtained from a study of the 
various metaphysical interpretations (none of them 
offer an explanation) of this parallelism of Mind 
and Body. Idealist and Realist may dispute hotly 
as to precisely how far the observer colours, so 
to say, the phenomena which he observes ; but 
decisions arrived at in that respect need not suggest 
that he has any power of changing either the colour- 
ing he confers or the thing perceived as thus 
coloured — much less the ability to continue observ- 
ing when there is no longer any brain activity to be 
observed. 

Animism. — In this connection, however, we must 
recognize the existence of a small but very vigorous 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 13 

group of philosophers known as " Animists." In 
this twentieth century the leading exponent of 
Animism is indubitably Professor William Mc- 
Dougall, whose book, " Body and Mind," sets out 
the arguments for and against the theory with 
scrupulous fairness. Indeed, I cannot call to mind 
anyone who has stated the case against Animism 
with such devastating force. 

Animism holds that the observer is anything but 
a nonentity. He is no "conscious automaton." 
He may, indeed, stand right outside the pictured 
universe ; but he is a " soul, ' ' with powers of inter- 
vention which enable him to alter the course of 
observed events — a mind which not only reads the 
brain, but which employs it as a tool. Much as the 
owner of an automatic piano may either listen to 
its playing or play on it himself. 

The inference is that this observer can survive 
the destruction of that brain which he observes. As 
for his intervention, there is no insuperable objec- 
tion to that from the physical side. McDougall 
quotes and suggests various ways in which interven- 
tion could be effected without adding to or sub- 
tracting from the amount of energy in the nervous 
system. 

The man-in-the-street is always at a loss to 
understand why the great majority of men of science 
are so coldly opposed to the idea of a " soul." The 
religious man in particular cannot comprehend why 
his arguments should arouse not merely opposition, 
but bitter contempt. Yet the reason is not far to 
seek. It is not that the idea is attributed to man's 
inordinate conceit (though this is sometimes done 
by the unreflecting) ; for, all said and done, a navvy 
who can walk into a public-house and order a pot 
of beer is an infinitely more wonderful thing than 



i 4 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

is the biggest lump of cooling mud that ever swam 
in the skies. But there can be no reasonable doubt 
that the idea of a soul must have first arisen in the 
mind of primitive man as the result of observation 
of his dreams. Ignorant as he was, he could have 
come to no other conclusion but that, in dreams, he 
left his sleeping body in one universe and went 
wandering off into another. It is considered that, 
but for that savage, the idea of such a thing as a 
"soul" would never have even occurred to man- 
kind ; so that arguments subsequently introduced to 
bolster up a case thus tainted at its source can have 
no claim to anyone's serious attention. 



CHAPTER IV 

Presentations. — Psychology must begin, then, 
by describing observed appearances (the literal 
translation of the word " phenomena ") without any 
prejudging of the issue as to what is the cause of 
these. So, though it may speak of such phenomena 
as if they were things, it must not be regarded as 
asserting that they are, at bottom, anything more 
than effects associated with brain-workings. It 
leaves, at the outset, that question open. 

Field of Presentation. — All such phenomena 
it styles "Presentations" and it regards them as 
located within the individual's private "Field of 
Presentation" (We shall employ this term in 
preference to the commoner "Field of Conscious- 
ness,' ' which is insufficiently definite.) This field 
of presentation contains, at any given instant of 
Time, all the phenomena which happen to be offered 
for possible observation. Let us take a concrete 
example of what that means. You are now reading 
this book, and your field of presentation contains 
the visual phenomena connected with the printed 
letters of the word you are regarding. It contains 
also, at the same instant, the visual phenomenon 
pertaining to the little numeral at the bottom of 
the page. This you "failed to notice"; but 
the numeral in question was, clearly, inside the 
area covered by your vision — it was affecting 
your brain via the eye, its psychical "correlate" 
was being offered to your attention. And that 
statement holds good for a host of other visual 
phenomena. On reflection, you will also agree that 

J 5 



16 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

the field must have then contained — presented to 
attention but left "unnoticed" — certain muscular 
sensations such as pressures against your body, 
quite a number of sounds, and the pleasant feeling 
produced by the air flowing into your lungs as you 
breathed. 

Attention. — It would be unsafe to say that these 
comparatively unnoticed phenomena were not being 
consciously observed. When you are watching a 
fall of snow, observation may be concentrated upon 
a single floating flake ; but that does not mean that 
you fail to perceive the remainder. Were these to 
vanish, leaving the single flake in the air, their dis- 
appearance would instantly distract your startled 
attention from the object of your previous pre- 
occupation. When listening to the playing of an 
orchestra, you do not need to cease iollowing the 
music in order to be aware that the irritating person 
in the seat ahead has stopped beating time with his 
programme. As a general rule, however, observa- 
tion seems to be definitely centred upon one or 
another specific part of the crowd of presentations 
— though we have no psychical evidence to show 
that this is anything more than a matter of habit. 
Observation thus centred is called "Attention" 
It is usual to speak of the part of the field centred 
upon as being in the "Focus of Attention" ; and 
it is a matter of common knowledge that, at and 
around this " focus," attention may be concentrated 
in greater or less degree of intensity. 

In Physiology (the science which deals with the 
brain as a physical organism) the field of presenta- 
tion would be merely the particular part of the cere- 
brum which happens to be, at that moment, in the 
state of activity associated with the production of 
psychical phenomena. And the focus of attention 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 17 

would be simply that particular brain path which the 
maximum current of nervous energy happened to 
be following. One would be apt to suppose, off- 
hand, that this maximum flow would be produced 
by whatever happened to be the greatest sensory 
stimulation; but such could not be the rule. The 
hungry man, coming to the luncheon table, has his 
attention focussed, not upon the brightness of the 
shining silver, but upon the far duller sensory 
stimulation of the well-browned mutton chop. 
Attention, therefore, may be either attracted from 
without the organism or directed from within. If 
we were to attribute such directing to the ultimate 
observer, we should be admitting him to the status 
of a full-blown animus with powers of intervention. 
For, as every schoolboy knows, the concentrating 
of attention has a very marked effect in the forma- 
tion of memories. But the physiologist would 
insist that we have no need to regard this internal 
directing of attention as originating in anything 
beyond the purely mechanical internal condition of 
the brain. 

Now, the field of presentation at any given 
moment may contain a great many observable 
phenomena besides those sensory appearances which 
we have been considering; It may contain, for 
example, "Memory Images."* 

What sort of a phenomenon is a "memory 
image"? 

Impressions. — Presentations may be divided 
into two sharply differing classes. The first of 

* I apologize to the modern psychologist for this revival 
of the ancient word " image." He will find, later on, that 
its use is perfectly justified, even though it does mean no 
more than the re-employment of a " disposition," or the re- 
stimulation of a brain path. 



iS AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

these comprises all phenomena which appear to the 
observer as directly attributable to the action of 
his outer sensory organs or nerve endings. That 
they are truly associated with the activities of such 
surface machinery is evident from the fact that 
movement of, or external interference with, the 
organs or nerve endings in question results in an 
alteration of the character of the phenomena ob- 
served, and from the equally significant fact that, in 
the absence of such movements or interferences, the 
phenomena remain unaltered and unescapable. They 
cannot, in popular parlance, be "willed away." 
Such phenomena are styled "Impressions." 

Images. — But now, picture to yourself a room 
which you remember. There is no doubt that what 
you are observing is a visual presentation — a mental 
picture. The process is not one of saying to your- 
self : " Let me see : there was a sofa in that corner, 
and a piano in the other, and the colour of the 
carpet was such-and-such." Rather does the whole 
of what you remember come before your eyes in the 
form of a simultaneous vision. If, however, you 
want to make absolutely certain that such visual 
pictures are not things which you deliberately manu- 
facture from a catalogue of verbally remembered 
detail, you may try the following experiment. Look 
carefully at a painting of a landscape; then, after 
half an hour, try to re-visualize what you saw. You 
will find that you can re-observe much of the exact 
colouring of the original impressions, — the peculiar 
olives and browns and greys, — even though many of 
these colours were quite beyond your powers of 
artistic analysis, let alone verbal description. So 
you must be seeing, as an "image," an arrange- 
ment of colours similar to those which you saw as 
impressions. 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 19 

External- Reality Tone. — There is a difference 
between an impression and its related image which 
it has puzzled every psychologist to describe. It 
lies in the presence or absence of what is sometimes 
called "sensory vividness,' ' but what, I think, 
would be better referred to as "External-reality 
tone" As compared with a room which you can 
see with your eyes, the room you are remembering 
seems unreal, yet real enough to be recognizable as 
a visual, and not, say, an aural image. Again, 
strike the rim of a wine glass, and listen to the 
sound as it dies away. It grows fainter and fainter 
till it vanishes ; but to the last (as Ward points out) 
it retains its external-reality tone. After it has 
entirely disappeared, you can remember what it 
sounded like just before it died away. That memory 
is recognizable as a memory of sound — an aural 
image. It has all the tonal qualities of the original 
faint impression; but it lacks the appearance of 
external reality. 

Again, compare the true memory image with the 
phenomenon commonly called an " after-impres- 
sion.' ' The latter may be easily observed. If 
you stare hard for sixty seconds at a brilliant 
red lampshade, and then look up at the ceil- 
ing, you will see, after a moment or so, a 
patch of green, shaped in outline like the lamp- 
shape. This phenomenon is dim, exhibits little, if 
any, detail within its boundaries, is of the oppo- 
site (complementary) colour to the original impres- 
sion, and lacks all perspective — seeming to be flat 
all over. It possesses, however, external-reality 
tone, and is clearly an impression. It moves as you 
move your eyes. But, while actually watching this 
green patch floating before you, you can observe a 
true memory image of the original impression of the 



20 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

lampshade. It is of the original red colour, exhibits 
much internal detail, and appears to be three-dimen- 
sional — i.e., to possess the depth apparent to 
binocular vision. 

Five minutes later, when all trace of the green 
after-impression has vanished, you can observe at 
will clear memory images of either red lampshade 
or green patch. 

It may be noted, then, that images are phenomena 
quite distinct from mere dying impressions. 



CHAPTER V 

Memory-Train. — Now, when you are trying to 
recall a succession of observed impressions, the 
images pertaining to these are observed as if they 
were actually arranged in an order corresponding 
to the order in which the original impressions were 
received. This supposed arrangement is called, as 
everybody knows, the " Memory -Train," and it is 
noticeable that the process of remembering events 
in the order in which they occurred is one which 
involves sometimes a very considerable mental 
effort. But if you are merely allowing your mind 
to wander — as in a daydream — without knowingly 
aiming at any definite goal, the set of images which 
is then observed appears to be arranged in a 
sequence which has little correspondence with any 
previous observed succession of events. 

Train of Ideas. — This curious succession of 
images is called the "Train of Ideas," and it is 
possibly a very significant fact that the simple, un- 
directed following of a train of ideas appears to 
entail no mental effort or fatigue whatsoever. 

Almost everybody has, at one time or another, 
amused himself by retracing the train of ideas which 
has led him, without any conscious aim on his part, 
to think of, or remember, a certain thing. " I saw 
this," he will say, "and that made me remember 
so-and-so; and that made me think of such-and- 
such.' ' And so on. Here, however, is a specific 
example. 

It is now evening, and in front of me stands a 
teacup with a chequered black and white border- 

21 



22 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

ing. The sight of this (an impression) "brings 
up" a memory image of the chequered oilcloth 
floor-covering which, this morning, I was using as 
material for an experiment in obtaining after-im- 
pressions. Now, at the time of making that experi- 
ment I was thinking of Ward's description of these 
phenomena in the " Encyclopaedia Britannica " ; and 
the next image to appear before me is an image of 
the red volume in question (mine is the small-print 
edition). Following that, there appears an image 
of an open page in the volume, and a very vivid 
image of the sensation of eye-strain involved in its 
reading. That " brings up " an image of the read- 
ing-glass I sometimes use. That "brings up" 
the image of the lens I borrowed in a fishing-tackle 
shop yesterday morning in order to examine some 
trout flies I was buying. That "brings up" the 
image of the friend for whom I had purchased those 
flies, as he stood when asking me to do so. And 
that "brings up" the pleasing image of the two- 
and-a-half pound trout I annexed from that friend's 
water two days ago. Thus, starting with a teacup, 
I arrive at a trout. 

Now, examination of the nature of a train of 
ideas brings to light the following facts. 

Generic Images. — When a number of partly 
similar impressions have been attended to at 
different times, there is observable, besides the 
several memory images pertaining to those several 
impressions, a vague, general image comprising 
nothing beyond the key elements which are common 
to all those separate images. For example, the 
images of the hundreds of tobacco pipes which I 
have seen, smoked, and handled, all contain a 
common element wjiich is now apparent to me as an 
ill-defined image of "pipe" in general. It pre- 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 23 

sents all the essential characteristics which serve to 
distinguish a pipe from any other article such as, 
say, an umbrella. Such characteristics are : Hollow 
bowl, tubular stem — in short, an appearance of 
utility for the purpose of smoking. But this 
indefinite image does not exhibit any indication of 
Ipecific colour or precise dimensions. It seems, 
however, to be the nucleus of all the definite images 
of particular pipes to be found in my mental equip- 
ment ; for, if attention be directed to it, there will 
quickly become observable the image of sometimes 
one and sometimes another of such particular pipes. 

These vague, almost formless general images are 
called "Generic Images," and they appear to be 
analogous to a central knot to which the specific, 
definite images are in the relation of radiating 
threads. 

Associational N£twork. — It is obvious that 
many of these threads — these definite images — may 
be radiating also from another generic image. A 
definite image of a particular wooden pipe-bowl may 
pertain, on one side, to the generic image "pipe," 
and, on another, to the generic image I call " grained 
wood." That generic image may have, as* another 
of its components, a definite image of a polished 
walnut table, which image, again, may also be a 
radiating thread pertaining to the generic image 
''furniture." A thread from "furniture" — say, 
the image of a particular suite seen in a shop win- 
dow — may be the link with the generic image 
"antiquities." So far, then, we are confronted 
with something analogous to a network of knots 
(generic images) and radiating threads (definite 
images) along the meshes of which attention may 
be led without conscious effort on the part of the 
observer. Ideas linked together in this manner 



24 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

graphically analogous to a network of knots and 
threads are said to be "associated." Hence we 
may refer to the structure in question as the " Asso- 
ciational Network.'* 

It is commonly assumed that association is of 
two kinds : association by similarity, as when one 
event recalls a similar event which may have hap- 
pened long ago; and association by contiguity , 
which means that, when two events have occurred in 
close succession, the recalling of one leads to the 
recollection of the other. 

To the physiologist the associational network is 
simply the network of brain-paths, the " knots'* 
being regions — or patterns — therein, and the " con- 
necting threads ' ' being paths which pertain to 
more than one such region — or pattern. All the 
phenomena of association seem to be adequately 
accounted for on that supposition ; and on no other 
theory, so far as I can see, is it possible to account 
for association by "similarity '* at all. 

In the absence of any other guidance, the path 
taken by the train of ideas seems to be conditioned 
very largely by the factor of freshness in the images. 
Other things being equal, an image which has been 
recently established makes a stronger bid for the 
wandering attention than does one which has long 
been neglected. The reader will notice that, in 
the example of a train of ideas given a little way 
back (the one which began with a teacup), all the 
images related to experiences which had recently 
occurred. For example, the black and white 
chequering of the teacup led me, not to chess, 
which is a very obtrusive generic image of mine, 
but to the piece of linoleum I had seen that morn- 
ing. Physiologically, this would mean that brain- 
paths which have been recently traversed offer a 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 25 

better passage to the currents of nervous energy 
than do those which have been allowed to fall into 
disuse. 

The supposed "memory-train" does not appear 
to be anything more than a particular pathway 
through the associational network, the pathway 
which happens to have been thus recently traversed. 
If you try to trace a " memory- train " back for more 
than a little way, you find that the path has ceased 
to be clearly marked out : the images do not come 
up in a steadily correct sequence of, so to say, their 
own accord. You have to help the memory out by 
reasoning as to which event must have happened 
next — and sometimes you reason wrongly. 

Dreams. — Dreams, like, many other mental 
phenomena, are composed largely of images sup- 
plied by an associational network. But they differ 
from mind-wandering in several important respects. 
In the latter form of activity reason is nearly always 
partially at work to determine the course to be fol- 
lowed along the network. But in dreams this 
guidance seems to be largely lacking, and the dream 
images present themselves as real — though curiously 
unstable — episodes in a personal adventure story 
of an only partially reasonable character. 

Integration. — Association between the dream 
images is sometimes clear enough ; but, as a general 
rule, such association takes the curious form known 
as an "Integration." By this word we shall mean : 
* ' A combination of associated images in which the 
composing elements are qualitatively distinguish- 
able/ ' (This definition is from Baldwin's " Dic- 
tionary of Philosophy and Psychology ".) For 
example, the image of a pink dress seen in a shop 
window on Monday, and that of a shop girl seen 
when the same place is re-visited on Tuesday, may 



26 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

combine, in Tuesday night's dream, into a single 
image of the shop girl wearing the pink dress. But 
on waking and recalling the dream, the two com- 
ponents of the dream-image, dress and girl, are 
clearly distinguishable as images of originally 
separate impressions. 



Concepts. — It will be noticed that, in the fore- 
going list of definitions, no attempt has been made 
to delve below that class of thought process which 
is styled " imagery" — a class in regard to which 
the psychoneural connection suggests itself very 
readily. Thought processes of a higher order are 
not yet properly — or even, perhaps, improperly — 
understood. Our knowledge of these is of the very 
vaguest description. There appear to be certain 
generalized ideas called "Concepts," such as, for 
example, those we employ when we think of " eat- 
ing/ ' " playing,' ' " imagining," or of " difficulty," 
"truth, "deception," "difference"; but it is 
even doubtful whether these may legitimately be 
herded together under any such single class-name. 
Compare, for instance, "eating" with "differ- 
ence." The former idea may be no more than the 
stimulation of the more broadly determinative lines 
of some extensive pattern in the plexus of brain- 
paths; but the latter may claim a connection with, 
or share in, every single idea we can formulate. 

It is here that the animist is enabled to put up his 
best fight in defence of the observer's alleged power 
of intervention. But even here the materialist may 
claim to have overrun a considerable part of the dis- 
puted territory. For the man whose brain has been 
injured by disease may, apparently, forget what 
"eating" is; or may be more than a little hazy 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 27 

regarding the existence of a "difference" betwixt 
himself and a grasshopper. 

Our present pathway does not take us across this 
particular battlefield ; though we pass within hailing 
distance of the combatants. From them, however, 
we may accept the information that concepts are 
often determinants of the route that attention 
follows through the associational net. It is hardly 
possible for the unguided attention to dwell upon 
any concept without finding itself, a moment later, 
confronted by a generic, or even specific, image 
clearly related to that main idea. 



Before we pass on to the next section, there is 
one aspect of psychology which had best be made 
perfectly clear. In all sciences, new facts may be 
discovered by : 

(1) Logical deduction from already established 
facts ; 

(2) Direct experiment; 

(3) Both processes corroborating each other. 

A fact which is in class 2 alone (i.e., one which has 
not been logically deduced from other facts) 
requires considerably more in the way of experi- 
mental proof than does a fact in class 1. If, 
indeed, it is of the kind which could not conceivably 
be deducible from any other knowledge at our dis- 
posal (e.g., that we experience " pain " when a cer- 
tain kind of nerve is over-stimulated), it cannot be 
regarded as scientifically useful unless it fulfils the 
condition that it is "open to anybody to ob- 
serve" (Baldwin's " Dictionary of Philosophy and 
Psychology "). A great many psychological facts 
are of this non-deducible kind ; and, in dealing with 
these, the psychologist follows the scientific rule. 



28 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

He is not content to say : ' ' Men of unimpeachable 
integrity and unquestionable authority have inves- 
tigated such-and-such mental phenomena, and the 
outcome of their inquiries has been to establish, 
etc., etc.' , On the contrary, his assertions (as dis- 
tinct from his speculations) will always be found to 
imply: " Do this or that with your mind, and you 
will observe that the facts are of such-and-such a 
character." 

The particular matter with which we shall be con- 
cerned in this book was, when first discovered, an 
apparently non-deducible fact in class 2 alone, and 
it had to be treated accordingly. Later on it was 
found to be a fact in class 1 (i.e., directly deducible 
from facts already established). Thus, in the end, 
it is presented to the reader as a fact in class 3. 



PART II 



CHAPTER VI 



In this section, it will be necessary to relate, as 
briefly as possible, the regrettably dramatic and 
extremely misleading incidents referred to in the 
second paragraph of the first chapter (the reader 
will remember the assurance given therein). It 
will be noticed that the incidents in question 
mimicked to perfection many classical examples of 
alleged " clairvoyance/ ' "astral-wandering," and 
"messages from the dead or dying.' ' It will be 
understood that they are described merely for their 
illustrative worth (the reader who has followed what 
has been written on the subject of psychological 
evidence will appreciate this), and because they 
form part of the ' ' narrative of the actual proceed- 
ings involved." But, from one point of view, these 
occurrences had a value entirely unique. This was 
because I was not, as is usually the case in such 
matters, compelled to take them at second-hand 
from some "clairvoyant" or "medium" — with all 
the important points left out and a mass of mis- 
leading suggestion thrown in. For they happened, 
one and all, to myself. 

# # # # # 

The first incident provided a very fair example of 
what might easily have passed for " clairvoyance." 

It occurred in 1898, when I was staying at an 
hotel in Sussex. I dreamed, one night, that I was 
having an argument with one of the waiters as to 
what was the correct time. I asserted that it was 
half -past four in the afternoon : he maintained that 

29 



30 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

it was half -past four in the middle of the night. 
With the apparent illogicality peculiar to all dreams, 
I concluded that my watch must have stopped ; and, 
on extracting that instrument from my waistcoat 
pocket, I saw, looking down on it, that this was 
precisely the case. It had stopped — with the hands 
at half -past four. With that I awoke. 

The dream had been a peculiar one (in ways 
which have nothing to do with this book), and the 
net result of it all was that I lit a match to see 
whether the watch had really stopped. To my sur- 
prise it was not, as it usually is, by my bedside. I 
got out of bed, hunted round, and found it lying 
on the chest of drawers. Sure enough, it had 
stopped, and the hands stood at half-past four. 

The solution seemed perfectly obvious. The 
watch must have stopped during the previous after- 
noon. I must have noticed this, forgotten it, and 
remembered it in my dream. Satisfied on that 
point, I rewound the instrument, but, not knowing 
the real time, I left the hands as they were. 

On coming downstairs next morning, I made 
straight for the nearest clock, with the object of 
setting the watch right. For if, as I supposed, it 
had stopped during the previous afternoon, and 
had merely been rewound at some unknown hour 
of the night, it was likely to be out by several hours. 

To my absolute amazement I found that the hands 
had only lost some two or three minutes — about the 
amount of time which had elapsed between my 
iv akin g from the dream and rewinding the watch. 

This meant, of course, that the watch had stopped 
at the actual moment of the dream. The latter was 
probably brought about by my missing the accus- 
tomed ticking. But — how did I come to see, in 
that dream, that the hands stood, as they actually 
did, at half -past four? 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 31 

If anyone else had told me such a tale I should 
probably have replied that he had dreamed the 
whole episode, from beginning to end, including 
the getting up and re-winding. But that was an 
answer I could not give to myself. I knew that I 
had been awake when I had risen and looked at the 
watch lying on the chest of drawers. Yet, what 
was the alternative? " Clairvoyance" — seeing 
across space through darkness and closed eyelids? 
Even supposing that there existed unknown rays 
which could effect that sort of penetration, and then 
produce vision, — which I did not believe, — the 
watch had been lying at a level above that of my 
eyes. What sort of rays could these be which bent 
round corners? 

From Sussex, I went to Sorrento, in Italy. Lying 
in bed there one morning, I awoke and fell to won- 
dering what the time might be. I lacked energy 
to look at my watch, which lay outside the mosquito 
curtains, on a small table within reach, but out of 
sight when my head was on the pillow. It occurred 
to me to experiment with the object of ascertaining 
whether I could again see that watch in the appar- 
ently " clairvoyant* ' fashion of the earlier experi- 
ence. Closing my eyes, and concentrating my 
thoughts upon wondering what the time might be, 
I fell into one of those semi-dozes in which one is 
still aware of one's situation. A moment later I 
found myself looking at the watch. The vision I 
saw was binocular, upright, poised in space about a 
foot from my nose, illumined by ordinary daylight, 
and encircled by a thick, whitish mist which filled 
the remainder of the field of sight. The hour hand 
stood at exactly eight o'clock ; the minute hand was 
wavering between the twelve and the one : the second 
hand was a formless blur. To look more intently 
would, I felt, wake me completely, so I made up 



32 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

my mind to treat the minute hand as one treats the 
needle of a prismatic compass, and to divide the 
arc of its swing. This gave the time as two and a 
half minutes past eight. That decided, I opened 
my eyes, reached out under the mosquito curtains, 
grabbed the watch, pulled it in, and held it up 
before me. I was wide awake, and — the hands 
stood at two and a half minutes past eight. 

This time there seemed to be no way out. I was 
driven to the conclusion that I possessed some 
funny faculty of seeing — seeing through obstacles, 
across space, and round corners. 

But I was wrong. 

# # # # # 

Then came an incident of an entirely different 
character. 

In January, 1901, I was at Alassio, on the Italian 
Riviera, having been invalided home from the Boer 
War. I dreamed, one night, that I was at a place 
which I took to be Fashoda, a little way up the 
Nile from Khartoum. The dream was a perfectly 
ordinary one, and by no means vivid, except in one 
particular. This was the sudden appearance of 
three men coming from the South. They were 
marvellously ragged, dressed in khaki faded to the 
colour of sackcloth; and their faces under their 
dusty sun-helmets were burned almost black. They 
looked, in fact, exactly like soldiers of the column 
with which I had lately been trekking in South 
Africa, and such I took them to be. I was puzzled 
as to why they should have travelled all the way 
from that country to the Soudan, and I questioned 
them on that point. They assured me, however, 
that this was precisely what they had done. "We 
have come right through from the Cape, ,, said one. 
Another added : " I've had an awful time. I nearly 
died of yellow fever." 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 33 

The remainder of the dream was unimportant. 

At that time we were receiving the Daily Tele- 
graph regularly from England. On opening this 
paper at breakfast, the morning after the dream/ my 
eye was caught by the following flaring headlines : 

THE GAPE TO CAIRO 
"DAILY TELEGRAPH" 

EXPEDITION AT KHARTOUM 

From our special correspondent. 

Khartoum, Thursday (5 p.m.). 

The " Daily Telegraph " expedition has 
arrived at Khartoum after a magnificent 
journey, etc., etc. 

A note in another part of the paper stated that 
the expedition was led by M. Lionel Decle. I 
heard or read subsequently that one of the three 
white men of the party had died en route; not, how- 
ever, of yellow fever, but of enteric. Whether this 
was true, or whether there were three white leaders, 
I do not know. 

One or two remarks may be made here. 

I had heard, some years previously, that M. 
Lionel Decle was contemplating some such trans- 
continental journey; but I did not know that any- 
thing had come of the scheme. Certainly I had no 
idea that the expedition had started. 

The expedition arrived at Khartoum the day 
before the news was published in London, and thus 
long before I had the dream, as that issue of the 
paper had to get from London to Alassio, and the 
dream did not occur till the night before its arrival. 



34 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

This put any " astral-wandering" business com- 
pletely out of the question. 

I attempted no explanation. 

# # # * * 

The next incident was as dramatic as any lover 
of the marvellous could desire. 

In the spring of 1902 I was encamped with the 
6th Mounted Infantry near the ruins of Lindley, in 
the (then) Orange Free State. We had just come 
off trek, and mails and newspapers arrived but 
rarely. 

There, one night, I had an unusually vivid and 
rather unpleasant dream. 

I seemed to be standing on high ground — the 
upper slopes of some spur of a hill or mountain. 
The ground was of a curious white formation. Here 
and there in this were little fissures, and from these 
jets of vapour were spouting upward. In my dream 
I recognized the place as an island of which I had 
dreamed before — an island which was in imminent 
peril from a volcano. And, when I saw the vapour 
spouting from the ground, I gasped: "It's the 
island ! Good Lord, the whole thing is going to 
blow up/" For I had memories of reading about 
Krakatoa, where the sea, making its way into the 
heart of a volcano through a submarine crevice, 
flushed into steam, and blew the whole mountain to 
pieces. Forthwith I was seized with a frantic 
desire to save the four thousand (I knew the 
number) unsuspecting inhabitants. Obviously there 
was only one way of doing this, and that was to 
take them off in ships. There followed a most dis- 
tressing nightmare, in which I was at a neighbour- 
ing island, trying to get the incredulous French 
authorities to despatch vessels of every and any 
description to remove the inhabitants of the threat- 
ened island. I was sent from one official to another; 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 35 

and finally woke myself by my own dream exertions, 
clinging to the heads of a team of horses drawing 
the carnage of one " Monsieur le Maire," who was 
going out to dine, and wanted me to return when his 
office would be open next day. All through the 
dream the number of the people in danger obsessed 
my mind. I repeated it to everyone I met, and, at 
the moment of waking, I was shouting to the 

. T Mi re i , Llsten ! ^our thousand people will 
be killed unless " 

I am not certain now when we received our next 
„ at ? 7 h £ f P a Pers, but, when they did come, the 
Daily Telegraph was amongst them, and, on open- 
ing the centre sheet, this is what met my eyes : 

VOLCANO DISASTER 
MARTINIQUE 

TOWN SWEPT AWAY 

AN AVALANCHE OF FLAME 

PROBABLE LOSS OF OVER 
40,000 LIVES 

BRITISH STEAMER BURNT 

One of the most terrible disasters in the 
annals of the world has befallen the once 
prosperous town of St. Pierre, the com- 
mercial capital of the French island of 
Martinique in the West Indies. At eight 
o'clock on Thursday morning the volcano 
Mont Pelee which had been quiescent for 
a century, etc., etc. — 



36 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

But there is no need to go over the story of the 
worst eruption in modern history. 

In another column of the same paper was the 
following, the headlines being somewhat smaller : 

A MOUNTAIN EXPLODES 

There followed the report of the schooner Ocean 
Traveller, which had been obliged to leave St. 
Vincent owing to a fall of sand from the volcano 
there, and had subsequently been unable to reach 
St. Lucia owing to adverse currents opposite the 
ill-fated St. Pierre. The paragraph contained 
these words : 

When she was about a mile off, the 
volcano Mont Pelee exploded. 

The narrator subsequently described how the 
mountain seemed to split open all down the side. 

Needless to say, ships were busy for some time 
after, removing survivors to neighbouring islands. 

There is one remark to be made here. 

The number of people declared to be killed was 
not, as I had maintained throughout the dream, 
4,000, but 40,000. I was out by a nought. But, 
when I read the paper, I read, in my haste, that 
number as 4,000; and, in telling the story subse- 
quently, I always spoke of that printed figure as 
having been 4,000 ; and I did not know it was really 
40,000 until I copied out the paragraph fifteen 
years later. 

Now, when the next batch of papers arrived, 
these gave more exact estimates of what the actual 
loss of life had been ; and I discovered that the true 
figure had nothing in common with the arrangement 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 37 

of fours and noughts I had both dreamed of, and 
gathered from the first report. So my wonderful 
" clairvoyant" vision had been wrong in its most 
insistent particular! But it was clear that its 
wrongness was likely to prove a matter just as 
important as its Tightness. For whence, in the 
dream, had I got that idea of 4^000? Clearly 
it must have come into my mind because of the 
newspaper paragraph. This suggested the extremely 
unpleasant notion that the whole thing was what 
doctors call " Identifying Paramnesia " ; that I had 
never really had any such dream at all ; but that, on 
reading the newspaper report, a false idea had 
sprung. up in my mind to the effect that I had pre- 
viously dreamed a dream containing all the details 
given in that paragraph. 

Moreover, reflection showed that the Cape to 
Cairo vision might very well have been of the same 
character. 

Indeed, the more I thought of the two episodes 
the clearer it became that, in each case, the dream 
had been precisely the sort of thing I might have 
expected to have experienced after reading the 
printed report — a perfectly ordinary dream based 
upon the personal experience of reading. How, 
then, could I be sure that those dreams had not 
been false memories engendered by the act of 
reading ? 

But there was the watch business to be taken into 
account. That, certainly, could not be made to fit 
in with the new theory; unless I were a great deal 
madder than I could bring myself to believe. 

I was, however, absolutely satisfied that neither 
in the Cape to Cairo nor in the Mont Pelee dream 
had there been any "astral wandering/ ' or any 
direct vision across leagues of space, or any " mes- 



38 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

sages 5 ' from the actors in the actual episodes 
represented. These dreams had been induced, 
either by the readings of the paragraphs, or else 
by telepathic communications from the journalist in 
the Daily Telegraph office who had written those 
accounts. 



CHAPTER VII 

To my great relief, the next experience, which 
occurred some two years later, completely squashed 
the "Identifying Paramnesia* ' theory. 

I dreamed that I was standing on a footway of 
some kind, consisting of transverse planks flanked 
on my left side by some sort of railing, beyond which 
was a deep gulf filled with thick fog. Overhead, 
I had an impression of an awning. But this last 
was not clearly seen, for the fog partly hid every- 
thing except three or four yards of the planking 
ahead of me with its attendant portion of railing 
and gulf. Suddenly I noticed, projecting upwards 
from somewhere far down in the gulf, an im- 
mensely long, thin, shadowy thing like a gigantic 
lath. It reached above the plankway, and was 
slanted so that it would, had the upper end been 
visible through the fog, have impinged upon the 
awning. As I stared at it, it began to wave slowly 
up and down, brushing the railing. A moment 
later I realized what the object was. I had seen 
just .such a thing once before in a cinema picture of 
a fire in the early days of cinematography. Then, 
as now, I had undergone the same puzzlement as to 
what this sort of waving lath might be, until I had 
realized that it was the long water- jet from a fire- 
engine hose, as photographed through intervening 
smoke. Somewhere down in that gulf, then, there 
must be a fire-engine, and it was playing a stream 
of water upon the smoke-hidden, railed structure 
where I stood. As I perceived this, the dream 
became perfectly abominable. The wooden plank- 

39 



40 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

way became crowded with people, dimly visible 
through the smoke. They were dropping in heaps ; 
and all the air was filled with horrible, choking, 
gasping ejaculations. Then the smoke, which had 
grown black and thick, rolled heavily over every- 
thing, hiding the entire scene. But a dreadful, 
suffocated moaning continued — and I was entirely 
thankful when I awoke. 

I was taking no chances with "Identifying 
Paramnesia " this time. I carefully recalled every 
detail of the dream after waking, and not till I had 
done this did I open the morning papers. There 
was nothing in these. But the evening editions 
brought the expected news. 

There had been a big fire in a factory somewhere 
near Paris. I think it was a rubber factory, though 
I cannot be sure. At any rate it was a factory for 
some material which gave off vile fumes when burn- 
ing. A large number of workgirls had been cut off 
by the flames, and had made their way out on to 
a balcony. There, for the moment, they had been 
comparatively safe, but the ladders available had 
been too short to admit of any rescue. While longer 
ones were being obtained, the fire-engines had 
directed streams of water on to the balcony to keep 
that refuge from catching alight. And then there 
happened a thing which must, I imagine, have been 
unique in the history of fires. From the broken 
windows behind the balcony the smoke from the 
burning rubber or other material came rolling out 
in such dense volumes that, although the unfor- 
tunate girls were standing actually in the open air, 
everyone of them was suffocated before the new 
ladders could arrive. 

This dream left the whole business more puzzling 
than ever. It seemed that nothing could explain 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 41 

it. For " clairvoyance " is not an explanation. It 
is a meaningless expression, a mere admission of 
inexplicability. And "telepathy" required an enor- 
mous amount of stretching before it could be made 
to fit the facts. 



Then came a dream which somewhat simplified 
matters. For it ruled out definitely: Insanity, 
clairvoyance, astral-wandering, spirit-messages, and 
telepathy. But it left me face to face with 
something much more staggering than any of 
these. . 

In 1904, a few months after the fire dream, I was 
staying at the Hotel Scholastika, on the borders of 
the Aachensee, in Austria. I dreamed one night 
that I was walking down a sort of pathway between 
two fields, separated from these last by high iron 
railings, eight or nine feet high, on each side of 
the path. My attention was suddenly attracted to 
a horse in the field on my left. It had apparently 
gone mad, and was tearing about, kicking and 
plunging in a most frenzied fashion. I cast a hasty 
glance backwards and forwards along the railings 
to see if there were any opening by which the animal 
could get out. Satisfied that there was none, I 
continued on my way. A few moments later I 
heard hoofs thundering behind me. Glancing back 
I saw, to my dismay, that the brute had somehow 
got out after all, and was coming full tilt after me 
down the pathway. It was a full-fledged night- 
mare; and I ran like a hare. Ahead of me the path 
ended at the foot of a flight of wooden steps rising 
upward. I was striving frantically to reach these 
when I awoke. 

Next day I went fishing with my brother down 



42 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

the little river which runs out of the Aachensee. It 
was wet-fly work, and I was industriously flogging 
the water when my brother called out: "Look at 
that horse !" Glancing across the river, I saw the 
scene of my dream. But, though right in essen- 
tials, it was absolutely unlike in minor details. The 
two fields with the fenced-off pathway running 
between them were there. The horse was there, 
behaving just as it had done in the dream. The 
wooden steps at the end of the pathway were there 
(they led up to a bridge crossing the river). But 
the fences were wooden and small, — not more than 
four or five feet high, — and the fields were ordinary 
small fields, whereas those in the dream had been 
park-like expanses . Moreover, the horse was a small 
beast, and not the rampaging great monster of the 
dream — though its behaviour was equally alarming. 
Finally, it was in the wrong field, the field which 
would have been on my right, had I been walking, 
as in the dream, down the path towards the bridge. 
I began to tell my brother about the dream, but 
broke off because the beast was behaving so very 
oddly that I wanted to make sure that it could not 
escape. As in the dream, I ran my eye critically 
along the railings. As in the dream, I could see 
no gap, or even gate, in them anywhere. Satisfied, 
I said, "At any rate, this horse cannot get out," 
and re-commenced fishing. But my brother inter- 
rupted me by calling, " Look out !" Glancing up 
again, I saw that there was no dodging fate. The 
beast had, inexplicably, just as in the dream, got 
out (probably it had jumped the fence), and, just as 
in the dream, it was thundering down the path 
towards the wooden steps. It swerved past 
these and plunged into the river, coming straight 
towards us. We both picked up stones, ran thirty 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 43 

yards or so back from the bank, and faced about. 
The end was tame, for, on emerging from the water 
on our side, the animal merely looked at us, snorted, 
and galloped off down a road. 

Now, it seemed to me that from this incident one 
thing was abundantly clear. These dreams were 
not precepts (impressions) of distant or future 
events. They were the usual commonplace dreams 
composed of distorted images of waking experience, 
built together in the usual half-senseless fashion 
peculiar to dreams. That is to say, if they had 
happened on the nights after the corresponding 
events, they would have exhibited nothing in the 
smallest degree unusual, and would have yieldea 
just as much true, and just as much false, informa- 
tion regarding the waking experiences which had 
given rise to them as does any ordinary dream — 
which is very little. 

They were the ordinary, appropriate, expectable 
dreams; but they were occurring on the wrong 
nights. 

Even the watch dreams were merely the dreams 
I ought to have had after seeing the watch. In the 
first of those incidents I had, when awake, seen the 
watch lying face upwards on the chest of drawers, 
with the hands stopped; and the corresponding 
dream image had been of a stopped watch, face 
upwards. In the second instance I had held the 
watch up facing me about a foot from my nose, 
while lying with my head on my pillow; and the 
reader will remember that the corresponding dozing 
image had been of a watch in precisely that position. 
The white mist had been, of course, the image of 
the mosquito curtains out of focus, as these were 
when I looked at the real watch. 

No, there was nothing unusual in any of these 



44 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

dreams as dreams. They were merely displaced in 
Time. 

That, of course, was staggering enough. But I 
felt, nevertheless, that it had been a great advance 
to resolve all these varied phenomena into one 
single class of incident — a simple, if mysterious, 
transposition of dates. 

But in all this speculation I was still a long way 
from the truth. 

The two remaining incidents I propose to relate 
in this section contained nothing to alter my half- 
formed opinion that temporal aberration constituted 
the whole of the mystery involved. But, had I not 
made this semi-discovery, I should certainly have 
regarded the following incident as a message from 
the "spirit-world" or a "phantasm of the dying." 

* * # # * 

In 191 2 I spent a good deal of time at Salisbury 
Plain, experimenting with one of my stable aero- 
planes. A military aeroplane competition was in 
progress, and most of the officers of the then tiny 
Royal Flying Corps were there. One of these I 
had not met before, nor did I see very much of him ; 
in fact, I do not think I spoke to him more than 
twice. Since these records are not evidence, or 
intended to be regarded as such, it will suffice if I 
refer to him as Lieutenant B. The other officers 
were all old friends of mine. Shortly after the 
conclusion of the competition the annual army 
manoeuvres began, and, having nothing to do with 
these, I went to Paris to inspect another machine 
which was being built there to my design. 

One morning while in that city f dreamed that I 
was standing in a very large meadow, situated in a 
landscape which I did not recognize. In this 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 45 

meadow a monoplane landed, crashing rather badly 
some fifty yards away. Immediately afterwards I 
saw B. coming to me from the direction of the 
wreck. I asked if much damage had been done. 
He replied, "Oh no, not much," and then added, 
" It's all that beastly engine; but I've got the hang 
of it now." The dream was a longish one, all 
about aeroplane accidents (a common form of night- 
mare with me, even to this day), and B.'s smash 
was by no means the worst thing I saw. I awoke 
to find the servant by my bedside with the morning 
tea, from which fact I was subsequently able to fix 
the hour of the dream as close on 8 a.m. 

B. was killed between 7 and 8 that morning, fall- 
ing into a meadow near Oxford. But I did not 
read of the accident till about two days and a night 
later. 

But now, note the following points : 
1. Engine failure had nothing whatever to do 
with the accident, nor could B. for one moment have 
ever thought that it had. For the monoplane was 
planing down — with the engine partly or entirely 
stopped — at the time ; and the accident was due to 
the uncoupling of a quick-release gadget in one of 
the main " lift " wires, and the consequent breaking 
upward of one wing. Of course, the planing down 
may have been compulsory, and due to engine 
failure; but there could have been no doubt in B.'s 
mind that his wing had broken. 

On the other hand, B. had made to my sister, 
while we were at the Plain, a remark about the 
engine almost exactly like that I heard him make in 
the dream, and it is more than likely that she had 
repeated it to me. She would naturally have 
done so. 

2. B. was merely a passenger in the machine. It 



46 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

was being piloted by another man, a stranger to me, 
who was also killed. There was nothing of this in 
the dream. 

But when I read the paragraph about the catas- 
trophe, it was B.'s name alone which caught and 
held my attention ; and I did not know of the death 
of the other man until I looked up the record of the 
accident several years later. 

3. The paragraph did not state the cause of the 
accident, and so left me with nothing to go upon 
but (possibly) B.'s past remark about the engine, 

4. The coincidence in time was not really remark- 
able. Dreams of aeroplane accidents were, as I 
have said, very frequent with me in those days, and 
between seven and eight, when the noise of motor 
traffic in the streets begins to penetrate to one's 
consciousness, has always been my hour for this 
particular class of nightmare. 

So I concluded that here, again, the dream was 
associated with the personal experience of reading 
the paragraph. 

* # # # # 

In the last incident of this series, the chrono- 
logical aberration was far more considerable. 

The dream occurred in the autumn of 191 3. The 
scene I saw was a high railway embankment. I 
knew in that dream — knew without questioning, as 
anyone acquainted with the locality would have 
known — that the place was just north of the Firth 
of Forth Bridge, in Scotland. The terrain below 
the embankment was open grassland, with people 
walking in small groups thereon. The scene came 
and went several times, but the last time I saw that 
a train going north had just fallen over the embank- 
ment. I saw several carriages lying towards the 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 47 

bottom of the slope, and I saw large blocks of stone 
rolling and sliding down. Realizing that this was 
probably one of those odd dreams of mine, I tried 
to ascertain if I could "get" the date of the real 
occurrence. All I could gather was that this date 
was somewhere in the following spring. My own 
recollection is that I pitched finally upon the middle 
of April, but my sister thinks I mentioned March 
when I told her the dream next morning. We 
agreed, jokingly, that we must warn our friends 
against travelling north in Scotland at any time in 
the succeeding spring. 

On April the 14th of that spring the "Flying 
Scotsman," one of the most famous mail trains of 
the period, jumped the parapet near Burntisland 
Station, about fifteen miles north of the Forth 
Bridge, and fell on to the golf links twenty feet 
below. 



The above-described incidents have been selected 
from a group of about twenty, simply because they 
were closely studied and carefully memorized at the 
time of their occurrence. Most of the others were 
merely noted, so to say, en passant, and are now 
almost completely forgotten. Curiously, I can 
remember no dreams of the coming Great War — 
except one. That one related to the bombardment 
of Lowestoft by the German fleet. I recognized the 
place as Lowestoft, but had no idea as to the 
nationality of the bombarding vessels. 



PART III 



CHAPTER VIII 



No one, I imagine, can derive any considerable 
pleasure from the supposition that he is a freak; 
and, personally, I would almost sooner have dis- 
covered myself to be a "medium." There might 
have been a chance of company there. Unfor- 
tunately it was abundantly clear that there was no 
" mediumship " in this matter, no " sensitiveness," 
no "clairvoyance." I was suffering, seemingly, 
from some extraordinary fault in smy relation to 
reality, something so uniquely wrong that it com- 
pelled me to perceive, at rare intervals, large blocks 
of otherwise perfectly normal personal experience 
displaced from their proper positions in Time. 
That such things could occur at all was a most 
interesting piece of knowledge. But, unfortunately, 
in the circumstances it could be knowledge to only 
one. person — myself. 

There was, however, a very remote possibility 
that, by employing this piece of curiously acquired 
knowledge as a guide, I might be able to discover 
some hitherto overlooked peculiarity in the structure 
of Time; and to that task I applied myself. 

Progress here was definite, but it was terribly 
slow. There was no help to be found in the con- 
ception of Time as a fourth dimension. For Time 
has always been treated by men of science as if it 
were a fourth dimension. What had to be shown 
was the possibility of displacement in that dimen 
sion. Nor did I gather much comfort from Berg- 

49 4 



50 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

son ; for to tell a man who is confronted with parts 
of Time clearly transposed that Time has no parts 
is distinctly futile. I cared not a whit whether 
Time were "a form of thought," or an aspect 
of reality, or (this was later) compoundable with 
Space. What I wanted to know was : How it got 
mixed? 

For " mixed " was the right word. Between the 
dream and the corresponding waking experience 
came the memory of the dream, while the memory 
of the waking experience followed them all ! 

However, the coming of the first world war put 
a temporary stop to further investigation; and it 
was not until 19 17 that any new developments 
occurred. 

In January of that year I was in Guy's Hospital, 
recovering from an operation. There, one morn- 
ing, when reading a book, I came upon a reference 
to one of those "combination" locks which are 
released by the twisting of rings embossed with 
letters of the alphabet. As I read this, something 
seemed, for one fleeting instant, to be stirring, so 
to say, in my memory ; but whatever it was it imme- 
diately subsided. I paused for a second, but 
nothing further developed, so I returned to my 
book. Then, luckily, I changed my mind, tossed 
the volume aside, and set myself determinedly to 
worry out exactly what it was that I had momen- 
tarily associated with the sentence read. In a little 
while it came back. I had dreamed, during the 
previous night, of precisely such a combination 
lock. 

The chances of coincidence, where two such 
vague, commonplace events were concerned, needed 
no pointing out. But I could not remember having 
seen, heard, or thought of such a lock for a year 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 51 

or more. And, knowing from past happenings that 
my dreams did, sometimes, contain images of future 
experience, it seemed to me that the appearance 
of the lock image in the previous night's dream 
might have been another instance of my particular 
abnormality. Such a supposition might prove, at 
any rate, worth considering. 

A few days later the great Silvertown explosion 
occurred, shaking the whole building, breaking 
windows, and causing the nurses to extinguish the 
lights, on the supposition that Zeppelins were over- 
head. Such an experience was calculated to make 
one dream; and dream I did, but, as usual, on the 
wrong night — the night before the associated event. 
After the disaster I told a fellow-convalescent of 
this experience. He interrupted me, saying, 
"Wait!" and then: "Curious, that. Now that I 
come to think of it, I also dreamed of an explosion 
last night." 

He could no longer, by then, recall any of the 
details of his dream, and, since big bangs of all 
sorts were fairly common during the war, coinci- 
dence might well have been responsible for the 
facts. But — supposing this were not the case, and 
that the dream had been in the same class as mine ? 
What followed ? 

There were thus two new suppositions to be 
examined. Viewed separately, each of these 
appeared wild in the extreme; but considered 
together they were sufficiently suggestive to justify 
a little closer attention. 

The validity of the first of these would mean 
that my dream pre-images were connected, not only 
with highly exciting and dramatic events, but also 
with the veriest trivialities, such as this little matter 
of reading about a combination lock. Exactly, in 



52 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

fact, as dream images of past events are connected 
just as often with unimportant happenings as with 
experiences more striking. Again, it had been by 
the merest accident of fortune that I had set myself 
to recall that dream ; and had I not done so I should 
never have been aware of the incident. According 
to this, then, I might, for all I could tell, have had 
these dreams with considerable frequency, and have 
either forgotten them at once, or else have failed 
to notice their connection with the subsequent 
related events. 

But if the supposition about my friend's dream 
were correct, this failure to observe a connection 
was -precisely what had happened in his case. He 
had not completely forgotten the dream, but the 
occurrence of the actual explosion had not served 
to recall it. 

I had got no further than this in my speculations 
when the friend in question came up in a state of 
some excitement. " You remember what we were 
saying about dreams?" he asked. "Well, I have 
been talking to So-and-So" (one of the hospital 
surgeons), "and he told me of a curious thing 
which had happened to him the other night. He 
had just got into bed and gone to sleep when he 
dreamed that he was aroused and compelled to go 
out to attend to a fractured leg. Almost imme- 
diately after his dream he was aroused, owing to 
the arrival of an urgent message which necessitated 
his going out to attend to just such a case. And 
in telling me the story he pointed out that he had 
not had to deal with a fractured leg for over six 
weeks." 

So here, possibly, was a third incident, involving 
a third person. What, I wondered, would become 
of the record of that event? The surgeon would 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 53 

tell it to a few friends, who would attribute the 
whole thing to coincidence (it might have been 
that), and in course of time he would forget all 
about it himself. But 

And then, what about that curious feeling which 
almost everyone has now and then experienced — 
that sudden, fleeting, disturbing conviction that 
something which is happening at that moment has 
happened before? 

What about those occasions when, receiving an 
unexpected letter from a friend who writes rarely, 
one recollects having dreamed of him during the 
previous night? 

What about all those dreams which, after having 
been completely forgotten, are suddenly, for no 
apparent reason, recalled later in the day? What 
is the association which recalls them? 

What about those puzzling dreams from which 
one is awakened by a noise or other sensory event — 
dreams in which the noise in question appears as 
the final dream incident ? Why is it that this closing 
incident is always logically led up to by the earlier 
part of the dream? 

What, finally, of all those cases, collected and 
tabulated by the Society for Psychical Research, 
where a dream of a friend's death has been followed 
by the receipt, next day, of the confirmatory news ? 
Those dreams were, clearly, not ■" spirit messages," 
but instances of my " effect "-—simple dreams 
associated merely with the coming personal ex- 
perience of reading the news. 

I had done nothing but suppose, in hopelessly 
unscientific fashion, for a week or more, and it 
seemed to me that I might as well complete my 
sinning. So I took a final wild leap to the wildest 
supposition of all. 



54 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

Was it possible that these phenomena were not 
abnormal, but normal? 

That dreams — dreams in general, all dreams, 
everybody's dreams — were composed of images of 
past experience and images of future experience 
blended together in approximately equal propor- 
tions? 

That the universe was, after all, really stretched 
out in Time, and that the lop-sided view we had 
of it — a view with the " future " part unaccountably 
missing, cut off from the growing "past" part by 
a travelling "present moment" — was due to a 
purely mentally imposed barrier which existed only 
when we were awake? So that, in reality, the 
associational network stretched, not merely this 
way and that way in Space, but also backwards 
and forwards in Time ; and the dreamer's attention, 
following in natural, unhindered fashion the easiest 
pathway among the ramifications, would be con- 
tinually crossing and recrossing that properly non- 
existent equator which we, waking, ruled quite 
arbitrarily athwart the whole. 

The foregoing supposition was not, be it noted, 
perceived as a possible explanation. The mixture 
in the order of actual experience — viz., dream, 
memory of dream, corresponding waking impres- 
sion, and memory thereof — would still have to be 
accounted for. But it would put the problem on 
an entirely different footing. There would be no 
longer any question as to why a man should be 
able to observe his own future mental states; 
that would be normal and habitual. On the 
contrary, the initial puzzle would be : What was 
the barrier which, in certain circumstances, de- 
barred him from that proper and comprehensive 
view? 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 55 

All this was seen in, so to say, a single flash of 
thought, almost too rapid for analysis. 

It was rejected with even greater swiftness. For 
it was absolutely inconceivable that a thing of this 
sort, if true, could have managed to escape, through 
all these centuries, universal perception and recog- 
nition. 



CHAPTER IX 

A little later on, however, I saw that this abrupt 
recoil had been illogical. For the whole supposi- 
tion had been based, of course, upon the earlier 
hypothesis that, any general recollection of these 
images was rendered difficult by the species of 
inhibition which had prevented my friend from 
associating his waking experience of the explosion 
with his previous dream. No memory is ever 
aroused unless there is some associated idea which 
revives it, and if that association misses fire, there 
can be no recall. 

Dreams, moreover, are mostly about trivial things 
— things which happen every day of one's life. 
Such a dream, even if it were, in actual fact, related 
to to-morrow's event, would naturally be attributed 
to yesterday's similar incident. Then, again, nine- 
tenths of all dreams are completely forgotten 
within five seconds of waking, and the few which 
survive rarely outlast the operation of shaving. 
Even a dream which has been recalled and mentally 
noted is generally forgotten by the afternoon. Add 
to this the before-mentioned partial mental ban 
upon the requisite association; add to that an un- 
conscious, matter-of-fact assumption of impossi- 
bility ; and it becomes quite probable that it would 
be only a very few of the more striking, more 
detailed, and (possibly) more emotional incidents 
which would ever be noticed at all. These, more- 
over, would be attributed to telepathy or to " spirit 
messages," or even to anything which, though insane 
in other respects, could, at least, be expressed in 

56 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 57 

the conventional terms of a single, absolute, one- 
dimensional Time. 

It was true, of course, that the theory of normality 
would take a lot of threshing out. The statement 
made in the last chapter was, obviously, incomplete; 
and the full description of the process involved 
might never be forthcoming. But the alternative 
was the hypothesis of abnormality ; and that meant, 
not merely abnormality in the sense of excess of, 
or deficiency in, some common quality of mind, but 
abnormality in a sense which was itself senseless. 
It is difficult to really believe in the utterly mean- 
ingless. 

Finally (and this was what attracted me most), 
the supposition of normality — of something in- 
herent, not in this or that individual, but in Time 
itself — would mean, if correct, that the phenomena 
in question ought to be potentially "open to any- 
one to observe, provided he fulfilled the necessary 
conditions." 

Hence, if one could devise an experiment which 
would overcome the two initial difficulties of re- 
membering and associating, the thing should prove 
to be directly observable by every normal indi- 
vidual, including the present reader. 

The arrangement of that experiment was, clearly, 
the first step. Explanation could come (and, as will 
be seen, did come) later. 



CHAPTER X 

The reader will have guessed that the experiment 
referred to in the last chapter was tried, and that 
it proved successful ; because otherwise, manifestly, 
this book would never have been written. 

It was not, however, until the following winter 
that I could bring myself to take the normality 
hypothesis seriously enough to put it to the test. 
Then, with many misgivings, and practically no 
hope of success, I began the first essential experi- 
ment, upon myself. I knew, of course, that I had 
these dreams occasionally ; but only at intervals of 
sometimes a year or more. According to the new 
theory, however, I should be having similar dreams 
throughout all these intervals, unknown to myself. 

As a rule, on nine mornings out of ten, I have 
no recollection of having dreamed at all. That, 
however, did not greatly trouble me. Many people, 
I knew, were genuinely convinced that they never 
dreamed ; but, from experiments I had made, I was 
satisfied that " dreamless sleep " is an illusion of 
memory. What happens is that one forgets the 
dreams at the very instant of waking. I myself 
have remembered, some days later, a dream which 
had occurred when I was under an anaesthetic, 
although, during the intervening interval, I had 
believed myself to have been, at the time, in a 
state of complete unconsciousness. 

My starting-point, then, was a belief in the possi- 
bility of recalling a fraction of the lost dreams of 
these apparently blank nights of mine. Now, 
according to the new hypothesis, that fraction 

58 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 59 

should contain images of both past and future 
events. It was probable that the majority of such 
images would not be distinct and separate, but, on 
the contrary, so blended and intermingled that the 
components would not be distinguishable as belong- 
ing to any special waking event. But just as one 
can, occasionally, clearly identify one part of such 
a blend of images as relating to a particular past 
event (vide definition of "Integration" in Part I.), 
so should one be able, on occasion, to identify an 
element in the blend as pertaining to a particular 
future occurrence. The point was (and this is an 
important point) that One must not expect ever to 
come upon a complete idea or scene which related 
wholly to the future. As an example of what I 
mean, the reader may turn back to the dream of a 
horse, narrated in Part II. There, the greater part 
of the dream related to the future ; but the general 
appearance of the horse, and that of the fields and 
railings, were, to the best of my belief, details 
collected from past experience. 

The dream, if recalled, would, preferably, be 
written down, so as to make the remainder of the 
experiment a matter of comparison between two 
hard, material facts — the record and the waking 
event. And, to facilitate subsequent analysis of 
the dream images, these would best be described 
with as much detail as possible. A short record, 
full of detail, would be of more value than a long 
one drafted in vaguer terms. 

But there was an even more cogent reason why 
amplitude of detail would be essential. A long 
dream contains a great many images, and a long 
day a great many impressions. By the ordinary laws 
of chance some of these would be bound to fit, if the 
experiment were sufficiently extended. Hence cor- 



6o AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

roborative detail would have to be the crucial test. 
For example, the dream of a pile of coins on a book, 
followed next day by the observation of a pile of 
coins in such a position would be the class of 
coincidence which would be bound to occur in any 
case. What would be required would be something 
more in the nature of a pile of sixpences upsetting 
off a red book, followed by such a waking ex- 
perience. (The rest of the scene of such a dream — 
the table and the room and the cause of the mishap 
— would probably be entirely different; but that 
would not matter.) The point was that nothing 
should be accepted as relating clearly to the future 
which did not contain the elements of what a racing 
man would call a " double event." 

The next thing to be considered was the necessity 
of a time limit. Obviously, even a dream of a 
pile of sixpences upsetting off a red book would be 
likely to be matched by a similar waking experience, 
if one allowed oneself the whole of one's life in 
which to look for the matching. A bank clerk 
might even find fulfilment in a fortnight. I decided 
that two days should be the accepted limit ; but that 
this might be extended in ratio to the oddity and 
unusualness of the incident. That would be a 
matter for judgment. My dream of the bombard- 
ment of Lowestoft, for instance, occurred a year 
or so before the event; and I have had one clear 
case — to be described later — of a dream image 
relating beyond all possibility of doubt to an event 
which happened some twenty years later. 

Since, then, the possibility of satisfactory identi- 
fication would depend mainly upon unusualness in 
the incident, the worst time to choose for the ex- 
periment would be the period when one was lead- 
ing a dull life with each day exactly like the last. 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 61 

But in such circumstances a visit to a theatre or 
to a cinema might well prove a useful auxiliary to 
the experiment. (That, I may say now, is an in- 
valuable tip.) Also, one might expect to get dreams 
of novels one was going to read. (I may add here 
that one does, as a matter of fact, get some of 
one's best results that way.) But, speaking 
generally, it would be best to select nights pre- 
ceding a journey or some other expected break in 
the monotony of circumstances. 

Another factor would be evidently the number 
of the results achieved. Satisfaction might be 
obtained either from the previous dreaming of a 
single, very unusual incident; or almost equally 
well from the previous dreaming of several fairly 
unusual events, any one of which results, had it 
been the only one, might justly have been attributed 
to rather exceptional coincidence. So it was decided 
that all results of the singly decisive kind should 
be marked with a + ; and that results which, though 
nearly decisive, required the backing of other 
similar results, should be marked with a sort of 

hot-cross bun, thus : H-) 

The foregoing describes the conditions I laid 
down for the test, and also the nature of the diffi- 
culties I was prepared to encounter. And encounter 
these I did, in abundance. But there were two 
which I did not foresee. 

The dreaming mind is a master-hand at tacking 
false interpretations on to everything it perceives. 
For this reason, the record of the dream should 
describe as separate facts, (a), the actual appearance 
of what is seen, and, (b), the interpretation given to 
that appearance. 

For example : during one of the days of the test 



62 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

I happened to be blowing a wood fire with a pair 
of bellows, and, in so doing, I brought the nozzle 
of the instrument into contact with the red-hot 
surface (facing me) of a large log. I do not know 
whether the reader has ever done this ; but the effect 
is most startling, not to say alarming. A dense 
shower of very brilliant sparks — a regular Crystal 
Palace firework display — leaps from the fire straight 
into your face and goes streaming past your ears, 
causing you to jump back for fear of being blinded. 
But there appears to be no heat in these sparks; 
at any rate, no holes are burned in your clothes. 
The experience is a most striking and unusual 
one; and, as it happened, precisely such a shower 
of sparks had flown past my ears in a dream during 
the previous night. But I had omitted to record 
the immediate dream-impression, which was simply 
that of a shower of little sparks, and had written 
down, instead, the explanation I had subsequently 
attached to that shower — viz., that a crowd of 
persons who happened to be present in the dream 
had been throwing cigarette ends. Both aspects 
of the dream-incident should have been recorded : 
first, the image seen, and then the interpretation 
attached thereto. This should be done throughout 
all the records. 

The second difficulty is one which demands 
careful attention. For it was here, at last, that I 
found the thing I had been looking for — the reason 
why this curious feature in the character of temporal 
experience has managed, through all these cen- 
turies, to escape universal observation. 

The waking mind refuses point-blank to accept 
the association between the dream and the subse- 
quent event. For it, this association is the wrong 
way round, and no sooner does it make itself per- 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 63 

ceived than it is instantly rejected. The intellectual 
revolt is automatic and extremely powerful. Even 
when confronted with the indisputable evidence of 
the written record, one jumps at any excuse to avoid 
recognition. One excuse which is nearly always 
seized is the dissimilarity of the adjacent parts of 
the scene, or the fact that there are parts in the 
" integration " which do not fit the incident ; matters 
which do not, of course, in the least affect the fact 
that there are parts of the scene or integration 
which do fit with the required degree of exactitude. 

The result is that, on reading over the record 
at the end of the succeeding day (or two days), one 
is apt to read straight on through the very thing 
one is looking for, without even noticing its con- 
nection with the waking incident. The reading 
should therefore be done slowly, with frequent 
pauses for consideration and for comparison with 
the day's events. In the cases of nearly all the 
results I am going to relate, the connection was, 
at first, only half glimpsed, was then immediately 
rejected, and was finally accepted only on account 
of the accumulating weight of the previously un- 
noticed points of corroborative detail. 

The simplest way to avoid this initial failure to 
notice is to pretend to yourself that the records 
you are about to read are those of dreams which 
you are going to have during the coming night; 
and then to look for events in the past day which 
might legitimately be regarded as the causes of 
those dreams. This is not unfair. It is only a 
device to enable you to notice; not a device to 
assist you to judge. That you do later, concerning 
yourself then solely with the corroborative details, 
and giving no thought to the Time order. 



64 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

The dodge for recalling the forgotten dreams is 
quite simple. A notebook and pencil is kept under 
the pillow, and, immediately on waking, before 
you even open your eyes, you set yourself to 
remember the rapidly vanishing dream. As a rule, 
a single incident is all that you can recall, and this 
appears so dim and small and isolated that you 
doubt the value of noting it down. Do not, how- 
ever, attempt to remember anything more, but fix 
your attention on that single incident, and try to 
remember its details. Like a flash, a large section 
of the dream in which that incident occurred comes 
back. What is more important, however, is that, 
with that section, there usually comes into view 
an isolated incident from a previous dream. Get 
hold of as many of these isolated incidents as you 
can, neglecting temporarily the rest of the dreams 
of which they formed part. Then jot down these 
incidents in your notebook as shortly as possible; 
a word or two for each should suffice. 

Now take incident number one. Concentrate 
upon it until you have recovered part of the dream 
story associated therewith, and write down the 
briefest possible outline of that story. Do the 
same in turn with the other incidents you have 
noted. Finally, take the abbreviated record thus 
made and write it out in full. Note details, as 
many as possible. Be specially careful to do this 
wherever the incident is one which, if it were to 
happen in real life, would seem unusual ; for it is 
in connection with events of this kind that your 
evidence is most likely to be obtained. 

Until you have completed your record, do not 
allow yourself to think of anything else. 

Do not attempt merely to remember. Write the 
dream down. Waking in the middle of the night, 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 65 

I have several times carefully memorized my pre- 
ceding dreams. But, no matter how certain I have 
been that those memories were firmly fixed, I 
have never found one shred of them remaining 
in the morning. Even dreams which I have 
memorized just before getting up, and rememor- 
ized while dressing, have nearly always vanished 
by the end of breakfast. 

It will be impossible, of course, for you to write 
down all the detail. To describe the appearance 
of a single dream-character completely would keep 
you busy for ten minutes. But write down the 
general detail, and all uncommon detail. Memorize 
the remainder by reading through your final record 
and attentively revisualizing each picture described 
therein; so that, should one of these unwritten 
details subsequently prove important, you can be 
satisfied that you are not then recalling it for the 
first time. 

If, on waking, you are convinced that you have 
not dreamed at all, and cannot recall a single 
detail, stop trying to recollect the dream, and con- 
centrate, instead, on remembering of what you were 
thinking when you first awoke. On recalling that 
thought, you will find that it was consequent on a 
dream, and this dream will immediately begin to 
return. 



Read your records over from their beginning at 
the end of each day of the experiment. 

The sort of thing you may expect to find will be 
described in the next chapter. 



CHAPTER XI 

The account of the following experiments, once 
again, is not scientific evidence, nor is it intended 
to be regarded as such. It is evidence for me, and 
part of my excuse for publication ; but it is not, of 
course, evidence for the reader. Conviction, for 
him, must depend either on the convincingness of 
the arguments advanced in the concluding chapters, 
or else on the results which, according to the theory, 
he is likely to obtain if he makes the experiment 
himself — upon himself. 

Personally, I found this image-hunting a fasci- 
nating and even exciting business. But it was a 
new kind of sport, and I made every possible 
blunder open to a raw beginner. Not only did I 
delay the attempt to recall the dream until I had 
been awake for half a minute or more; but I also 
failed to appreciate sufficiently the importance of 
detail in the written accounts. Incidents which 
should have been described in fifty words were 
recorded in three. The result was that, although 
the dreams yielded much that was suggestive of 
future experience, I could find little that was 
identifiable as belonging to either half of Time. 
There was the shower-of-sparks dream recounted 
in the last chapter, and five slightly more doubtful 
results. There was one fully described image, the 
original of which was seen four years later ; but that 
was outside the prescribed limits of the test. It 
was not, in fact, until the eleventh day that I got 
the clear, conclusive result I had expected. 

On the afternoon of that day I was out shooting 

66 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 67 

over some rough country. I was a little uncertain 
regarding the boundaries covered by the permission 
which I had obtained, and presently found myself 
on land where, I realized, I might have no right 
to be. As I crossed this, I heard two men shouting 
at me from different directions. They seemed, 
moreover, to be urging on a furiously barking dog. 
I made tracks for the nearest gate in the boundary 
wall, trying to look as if unaware of anything un- 
usual. The shouting and barking came nearer and 
nearer. I walked a trifle faster, and managed to 
slip through the gate before the pursuers came into 
view. Altogether a most unpleasant episode for a 
sensitive individual, and one quite likely to make 
him dream thereof. 

On reading over my records that evening, I, at 
first, noticed nothing; and was just going to close 
the book, when my eye caught, written rather more 
faintly, right at the end : 

" Hunted by two men and a dog" 

And the amazing thing about it was that I had 
completely forgotten having had any such dream. 
I could not even recall having written it down. 

There was nothing identifiable on the twelfth 
day; but the thirteenth gave another excellent 
result. 

During the day I read a novel in which one of 
the characters hid in a large secret loft in the roof 
of an old house. Later on in the story he had to 
fly from the house, and escaped from the loft by 
way of a chimney. 

The previous night's dream was about a large, 
mysterious, secret loft, which I discovered, and ex- 
plored with great interest. A little later in the 
dream it became advisable for me to escape from 



68 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

the house, and I decided to do this by way of the 
loft. 

On the fourteenth night I had four "hot-cross- 
bun" results. 

The net result of the experiment was that in the 
course of a fortnight I had been able to identify 
two conclusive instances of the "effect," and six 
which, though not conclusive when regarded singly, 
could scarcely be attributed to coincidence when 
their number was taken into account. But the most 
important point was this : Not one of those instances 
would ever have been observed at all, had not the 
dreams been memorized and written down, and the 
records reinspected after the waking events. 
***** 

So far, then, the theory that the effect was merely 
a normal characteristic of man's general relation- 
ship to Time — but one so constituted as to elude 
casual observation — had been partly borne out by 
experiment. But, on that theory, the effect in ques- 
tion should be just as experimentally observable 
to everyone else as it was to myself. This meant 
that I must persuade another person to make a 
similar trial. 

A young woman, whom I will call Miss B., good- 
naturedly agreed to undertake the task. I selected 
her mainly because she was an extremely normal 
individual, who had never had any sort of 
"psychical" experience, and who (this was the 
great thing) believed that she practically never 
dreamed at all. Indeed, she assured me that it 
would be useless for her to experiment, as she had 
only had some six or seven dreams in the whole 
course of her life. 

The morning after the first night she came to 
me and told me that it was quite hopeless. She 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 69 

had tried to remember her dreams the very instant 
she woke; but there had been nothing to remember. 
So I told her not to bother about looking for 
memories of dreams, but to endeavour instead to 
recollect of what she had been thinking at the 
moment of waking, and, after she had got that, to 
try to recall why she had been thinking it. That 
worked ; as I had known it would ; and on each of 
the next six mornings she was able to remember 
that she had had one short dream. 

Counting the experiment as starting from the 
first dream, she obtained, on the sixth day, the 
following result. 

Waiting at Plymouth Station for a train, she 
walked up to one end of a platform and came 
upon a five- or six-barred gate leading on to a road. 
As she reached the gate a man passed on the other 
side, driving three brown cows. He was holding 
the stick out over the cows in a peculiar fashion, — as 
if it were a fishing-rod. 

In the dream, she walked up a path she knew, 
and found, to her great surprise, that it ended in 
a five- or six-barred gate which had no business 
to be there. The gate was just like the one at the 
station, and, as she reached it, the man and the 
three brown cows passed on the other side, exactly 
as in the waking experience, the man holding out 
the stick fishing-rod fashion over the cows, and the 
whole group being arranged just like the group 
she saw. 

The dream occurred the morning before the 
waking experience. 

The blending of the "past" image of the path 
with the "future" image of the gate provided an 
excellent specimen of integration. 



;o AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

I then asked my cousin, Miss C, to try. She 
was positive that she had never had any experience 
of this kind, and was sure that, as a general rule, 
she dreamed very little. She proved excellent at 
recovering the lost dreams, and good at noting 
detail. But at first she was very weak at perceiving 
connections, even with past events. She could not, 
for example, understand how a dream of walking 
on roofs could be connected with the experience 
of climbing about the roof of a bungalow with me 
on the previous day, though she had not been on 
a roof of any sort for years. She obtained, how- 
ever, on the eighth day, the following first-class 
result : 

Immediately upon her arrival at a certain country 
hotel she was told of a curious person staying there 
whom all the guests suspected, having made up 
their minds that she was a German. (This was 
during the last stages of the war.) Shortly after- 
wards she met this person — for the first time — in 
the hotel grounds. These are rather uncommon. 
They extend a long way, contain numbers of large, 
rare trees, and would certainly be taken for public 
gardens by anyone who did not know that they 
belonged to the hotel. The supposed German was 
dressed in a black skirt with a black-and-white 
striped blouse, and had her hair scraped back in a 
" bun " on the top of her head. 

My cousin's dream was that a German woman, 
dressed in a black skirt, with a black-and-white 
striped blouse, and having her hair scraped back in 
a " bun " on the top of her head, met her in a public 
garden. My cousin suspected her of being a spy. 

The dream occurred about two days before the 
event. (The record is undated, but was in my 
hands when the confirmatory event took place.) 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 71 

She had already had one almost, but not quite, 
conclusive result earlier in the experiment — a dream 
connected with some news in a letter she subse- 
quently received from a friend. 

***** 

Mrs. L., the next person to try, got an excellent 
result on the very first night. It related, however, 
to two separate experiences which occurred during 
the following week. The two-day limit was here 
exceeded ; but the correspondence was so clear that 
the result came under the rule permitting an ex- 
tension of the limit in exceptional cases. 

The waking experiences concerned two public 
meetings at Corwen. Mrs. L. went to one of these, 
and, in describing it to me afterwards, told me she 
was surprised at the large number of clergymen 
who seemed to have arrived out of the void to fill 
the building ; for it did not seem to her that there 
was anything in the business before the meeting 
which could be of special interest to the Church. 

She was not present at the other meeting. But 
my -sister was there, and she told Mrs. L. of her 
experiences. On putting her head in at the door 
she found a regular pandemonium in progress. She 
was about to withdraw discreetly, when the chair- 
man, catching sight of her, called out : " Come in, 
Miss Dunne, and see how we Welsh fight/" 

In Mrs. L/s dream she was at a public meeting, 
and was greatly annoyed by the interruptions of a 
clergyman in the audience, who, instead of allowing 
the business to proceed, insisted on preaching a 
sort of sermon ending in a prayer. She expostu- 
lated. The clergyman leaned so far back that he 
touched her. Another man in the audience pushed 
against her arm. She rose, and, thumping a table. 



72 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

cried : " Who is responsible for the behaviour of 
the audience ? I know the Welsh are notorious for 
bad behaviour in -public, but I will not have it 
here." 

Mrs. L. forgot all about this dream after writing 
it down. Its record, was not re-read by her after 
the second day, and so she missed it when the two 
meetings occurred later in the week. It was only 
by chance that I happened to look back through 
the notes and discover it. 

* # # # # 

Major F., the next person approached, entered 
upon the experiment with considerable interest. 
He pointed out that, if there were anything in this 
business, it might mean the spotting of a Derby 
winner. He finished satisfied that I was perfectly 
right, but also satisfied, I am afraid, that the dream- 
ing mind did not properly understand its business. 

He happens to be a marine artist of considerable 
reputation ; and on the second day of the test he 
set forth to paint a couple of boats which he had 
previously seen lying on the beach. But he found 
that one boat, which was pointed at both bow and 
stern, had been painted, since his last visit, in 
staring lifeboat (red and blue) colours. However, 
he made his sketch ; a process necessitating, of 
course, long and close attention to the boat and 
its colours. The vessel stood on short, green turf. 
Some distance away, on a pier which came into the 
picture, was another long, red, somewhat boat-like 
object with something draped across its middle. 
Major F. took a field-glass to ascertain what this 
stuff was, and discovered it to be a net. 

The associated dream-image was that of a red- 
and-blue lifeboat standing on green turf with a net 
draped over its middle. 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 73 

This dream had occurred during the previous 
night. 

Major F., at first, could not see the connection; 
He thought that the similarity ought to have 
extended to everything else in the dream scene, 
and was disappointed that this had not been the 
case. However, he continued the trial. 

On the next day it rained heavily, and we both 
set out to look for a sheltered place from which to 
paint pictures. We entered a small house which 
was in course of construction, and, finding the view 
from the lower windows too restricted, erected a 
ladder against the cross-beams of the unfinished 
upper story, and climbed up on to these. The 
ladder was a rather unusual one, in that it had 
square rungs. 

One of Major F.'s dreams on the preceding night 
had been that he was climbing a ladder which did 
not appear to be set against any wall. It went up, 
so to say, into space. And it had square rungs. 

He had not been up a ladder for six years. 

What finally convinced him, however, was this : 
He dreamed that he was sailing a toy boat with a 
small boy protege" of his to whom he had (actually) 
presented this vessel. A little later on he dreamed 
he saw a similar boat, but full size, dismasted, and 
with its sails lying flat on the water. The crew 
were washing them. A few days after this he heard 
that his boy friend had been taken to a pond to 
sail his new boat, but instead of doing so had 
insisted on removing the sails, laying them flat in 
the water of the pond and scrubbing them. 

He agreed that these three results, taken to- 
gether, were conclusive. 



74 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

A little while before this my brother had written 
to me to say that he had "got" the post-war death 
of General Leman, the Belgian hero, and, on open- 
ing his newspaper at breakfast, had found the 
announcement confronting him. 

My sister, like my brother, obtained her result 
without the necessity of experimenting. (Both, of 
course, were now on the lookout for the effect.) 
Her evidence, however, extended into a department 
of science^ where "Beeton" is a greater name than 
"Newton/' Here, although an ignoramus, I am 
humble, and so I am prepared to take her word 
for it that the correspondence of events in this case 
was sufficiently detailed to put coincidence entirely 
out of the question. 



CHAPTER XII 

The situation was now a little clearer. It had 
been discovered that the effect was one which was 
apparent only to definitely directed observation, 
and its failure to attract general attention was, thus, 
sufficiently explained. But the rough-and-ready 
method which had been devised for the purpose of 
rendering it perceptible seemed to work quite well. 
The original hypothesis of solitary abnormality had 
been completely killed, and, moreover, in the light 
of the experiment, I did not appear to possess even 
a specially well developed faculty for observing 
the effect. Those other people had got their decisive 
results more quickly than I, and, in most cases, 
those results had been clearer. 

The outcome of the experiments suggested that 
the number of persons who would be able to per- 
ceive the effect for themselves would be, at least, so 
large as to render any idea of a shared abnormality 
absurd — for wholesale abnormality is a contradic- 
tion in terms. Indeed, when one came to consider, 
in addition, that practically everyone has occasion- 
ally experienced that queer sense of events having 
"happened before," and that most people are apt 
to recall suddenly an apparently forgotten dream 
because (there can be no other reason) something 
occurs which reminds them of {i.e., is associated 
with) that dream, it became fairly clear that, if there 
were abnormality anywhere, it would probably per- 
tain to those, if such there should prove to be, who 
were mentally debarred from observing the effect. 
Statistics in that respect, however, could be col- 

75 



76 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

lected only from experiments conducted on a wide- 
spread scale consequent upon the publication of a 
book. 

Meanwhile, the explanation seemed as far away 
as ever. 

The trouble was that the effect was so extremely 
definite in its aspects. It was no broad, vague 
affair such as might be covered by some sweeping 
generalization (Relativity, for example, or a two- 
dimensional theory of Time) ; it bristled with pecu- 
liarities; it presented clues which pointed like 
signposts to half a dozen solutions — mostly con- 
tradictory. And, though it was easy to devise 
explanations which should cover some of the facts, 
it was difficult to find anything which could fit 
them all. 

In the hope of obtaining additional data, I recom- 
menced experimenting upon myself, the immediate 
object being to ascertain whether there were any 
observable differences between the images which 
related to the future and those which related to the 
past. As it turned out, the most careful observa- 
tion failed to bring to view any such distinguishing 
features. 

In the course of these further experiments, how- 
ever, I came upon three dreams of a specially illu- 
minative kind, and these, perhaps, had best briefly 
be described. 

The first afforded a fairly clear example of 
an associational chain running from "past" to 
"future/' The connecting link was the idea of 
spilled ink, which idea entered into both the related 
waking experiences. 

Waking experience (i) : before the dream. — 
Watched a friend seated at a table filling a foun- 
tain-pen, and thought he was going to spill the ink. 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 77 

Waking experience (2) : after the dream. — Read 
a French detective story. The detective seemed to 
be unusually incompetent, and, towards the end of 
the book, I began to wonder when he was going to 
exhibit some sign of the skill with which the reader 
had been asked to credit him. 

In the denouement he pretended to stumble, and, 
in so doing, upset some ink over a table at which 
the villain was seated. The latter, to save his 
clothes, threw himself back in his chair, raising his 
hands above the flood. Whereupon, the detective 
seized one hand and slapped it down first into the 
ink and then on to a piece of blotting-paper, thus 
obtaining a set of finger-prints. He then trium- 
phantly denounced the criminal. 

Dream: between the two waking experiences . — 
A famous detective was going to give us an exhibi- 
tion of his skill. We waited a long time, but he 
seemed quite incompetent. Finally, he pretended 
to stumble, and, in so doing, spilled ink from a 
fountain- fen over the criminal, whom he then 
triumphantly denounced. 

The second dream exhibited a similar associa- 
tional chain, but in this case the link — shooting 
dangerous game with a revolver — was much clearer. 

Waking experience (1): before the dream. — Saw 
pictures of a lion-shooting expedition. My brother 
was thinking, at the time, of joining such an expedi- 
tion, and I began to wonder what guns he ought to 
take. While considering the merits and demerits 
of various weapons, was reminded of an enormous 
seven-chambered revolver I had seen in a Paris gun 
shop, which apparatus was supposed to be part of 
the equipment of any up-to-date hunter of lions. 
Wondered, with some amusement, what lion-shoot- 
ing with a revolver would be like. 



78 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

Waking experience (2) : after the dream. — Read 
Ethel Sidgwick's "Hatchways." Two chapters 
are devoted to the episode of a leopard, which has 
escaped from a menagerie. It has appeared near a 
country house where a sort of children's school treat 
is in progress, and has killed a goat. Later on, 
the hero is saved from the animal by a retired 
explorer, who arrives in the nick of time and kills 
the beast with two shots from a borrowed revolver. 

Dream: between the two waking experiences. — 
Looking from the windows of a country house, saw 
the head and shoulders of a lion moving through a 
cornfield. It was known in the neighbourhood 
that this lion had escaped from a menagerie, and 
that it had killed a goat. Wondered if I could hit 
it from the window with my revolver, but decided 
that the range was too far. Decided to lie up 
alongside the track in the cornfield, and wait till 
the beast repassed. Felt, however, that I should 
prefer to be armed with something better than a 
revolver. Went out to try to get a rifle. 

The third dream provided an example of a per- 
fect integration, the component parts of which were 
related to impressions received before and after the 
dream. 

Waking experience (1): before the dream. — Saw 
in the garden of an hotel where I was staying the 
bottom, minus the sides, of an old, small, flat- 
bottomed boat. 

Waking experience (2) : after the dream. — My 
sister persuaded me to go with her to one of the 
Olympia motor cycle shows, as she wanted my 
opinion on a small " scooter " which had caught her 
fancy. It was a neat-looking little thing called the 
" Unibus," and it was entirely different to the other 
scooters in the show, inasmuch as it was built on 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 79 

motor-car principles, with shaft, gear-box, etc. It 
was equipped with a little seat of curious shape (on 
all scooters that we had seen hitherto, one stood on 
the base-board). Also, it was fitted with a shield 
for the protection of ladies' dresses. I pointed out 
the advantages of this last feature, and added that 
in ordinary scooters she would get her feet horribly 
wet and muddy. As I said that, there flashed 
through my mind the old curious conviction : This 
has happened before. Knowing what that meant, 
I set to work and presently revived the lost memory. 
It belonged to a dream, and what was more, a dream 
which I had recorded. On my return home I 
looked up the notes, and found that they had been 
made two years before. 

Dream: between the two waking experiences. — 
Saw my sister coming down a street, sitting in 
an extremely curious little motor-car. (I had made 
a sketch of this machine, which was simply the 
"Unibus," without its shield.) Called out to her 
something about getting her feet wet. Saw water 
in the roadway up to the level of the low, oval plat- 
form. 

The notes stated that the platform of this tiny car 
was the fiece of a flat-bottomed boat I had seen 
nine or ten days before. 

Since we have got on to the subject of long-range 
association with a dream in the middle, I may as 
well describe the most perfect example of the kind 
I have ever experienced. The gap between dream 
and future event was about twenty years. 

Waking experience (1) : before the dream. — 
When a small boy, between twelve and fourteen, I 
read with enormous interest Jules Verne's " Clipper 
of the Clouds." Readers of that book will prob- 
ably remember the illustrations of the author's idea 



80 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

of a flying machine. These showed a long, dark 
hull of about the size and shape of a modern 
" Destroyer/' except that it had a ram bow. This 
thing, which looked as if it had got off the sea and 
into the air by mistake, was supported solely by a 
cloud of tiny screw propellers mounted on a forest 
of thin metal masts. There were no wings, or any- 
thing of that sort. 

Waking experience (2): after the dream. — Some 
twenty years later, in 1910, I made the first decisive 
flight in the first aeroplane which possessed com- 
plete inherent stability.* It was a rather exciting 
episode. The thing got off too soon, bounced — 
and, when I recovered my scattered wits, I found it 
roaring away over the aerodrome boundary, climb- 
ing evenly, and steady as a rock. So I left well 
alone, and allowed it to look after itself. This it 
did till the engine gave out (usually a matter of 
three minutes in those days). The sensation was 
most extraordinary. The machine, like all those 
of my design, was tailless, and shaped, as viewed 
from below, like a broad arrow-head minus the 
shaft. It travelled point foremost, and, at that 
point, there was fitted a structure like an open (un- 
decked) canoe, made of white canvas stretched over 
a light wooden framework. Seated idly in this, 
and looking down over the sides at the cattle scam- 
pering wildly around three hundred feet below, the 
whole of the main structure of the aeroplane was 
away back behind the field of vision, and the effect 
produced was that one was travelling through the 
void in a simple open canoe. 

Dream: between the two waking experiences. — 

* Mr. L. Gibbs had previously persuaded a similar machine 
of my design to leave the ground ; but the flight on that 
occasion was limited to a few yards. 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 81 

A few days after I had read, as a small boy, Jules 
Verne's book, I dreamed that I had invented a 
flying machine, and was travelling through space 
therein. It must be borne in mind that I had never 
heard of, or conceived the possibility of, any flying 
machine different to the great metallic, screw-sup- 
ported "clipper of the clouds.' ' Yet in my dream 
1 was seatea in a tiny open boat constructed of some 
whitish material on a wooden framework. I was 
doing no steering. And there was no sign of any- 
thing supporting the boat. 

I may add here that the boat-like nacelle of the 
" Dunne " biplane had not been added on account 
of any lingering, unrecognized memory of the 
dream. The earlier machines had no such feature. 
This had been attached as an afterthought, simply 
in order to reduce the " head-resistance " of the 
pilot, which resistance, at that particular place, was 
believed to exercise a detrimental effect upon the 
stability of the apparatus. 

I never forgot that dream, and recalled it with 
amusement when, in 1901, being on sick-leave from 
the Boer War, I set to work in earnest to devise some 
" heavier-than-air " contrivance, which should solve 
the great military problem of reconnaissance. But 
it seemed to me a dream natural enough for a boy, 
and I did not then perceive the significance of the 
appearance of the dream-machine — indeed, I could 
not do so, for the related constructional develop- 
ment did not come till ten years later. By then I had 
dismissed the dream as of no importance, and it 
was only recently that I realized that the corrobora- 
tive detail of the little, white, open boat classified 
the whole as an "anticipation" of "future" 
experience. 

* TT TT *ff ™ 

6 



82 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

Granted that the dreaming attention ranges about 
the associational network without paying heed to any 
particular "present," there is nothing astonishing 
in its lighting on an image many years "ahead." 
This, in fact, is exactly what we should expect, for 
in its "backward" travel it often lights on images 
many years " behind." 

But, when it comes to computing the proportion 
which the images of the past bear to the images of 
the future, in a given series of dreams, one is apt to 
be misled. For the images which relate to events a 
long way behind can be recognized and counted; 
but those which relate to events similar distances 
ahead cannot be identified. Hence, the only way 
to strike a balance is to confine the statistics to the 
range of a few days either way. Images which 
relate equally well to either past or future— such as 
those of friends, and of everyday scenes — should 
not be counted. Images which are apparently of 
the past should be submitted to the same severe 
scrutiny as are those which are apparently of the 
future, for coincidence will operate just as effectively 
in either direction. 

Computing in this fashion I have found that the 
images which relate indisputably to the near-by 
future are about equal in number to those which per- 
tain similarly indisputably to the near-by past. 



CHAPTER XIII 

Why only in dreams ? That was the question which 
blocked all progress. Every solution which could 
reduce Time to something wholly present ruled that 
the pre-images should be just as observable when 
one was awake as they were when one slept. So, 
why only in dreams ? 

I should be ashamed to confess how long a period 
elapsed before I saw that, in framing that question, 
I was begging the question. The moment, how- 
ever, that I did realize this, I proceeded to put the 
matter to the test. 

A little consideration suggested that the simplest 
way to set about a waking experiment would be to 
take a book which one intended to read within the 
next few minutes, think determinedly of the title, — 
so as to begin with an idea which should have asso- 
ciational links with whatever one might come upon 
in that future reading, — and then wait for odds and 
ends of images to come into the mind by simple 
association. 

Obviously, one could save a lot of time by reject- 
ing at once all images which one recognized as per- 
taining to the past. Also, since the images would 
be perceived while awake and with one's wits about 
one, one might rely more upon one's memories of 
them than one could when the memories were formed 
sleeping, and thus save a vast amount of writing. 
A brief note of each image should suffice. 

The first experiment was a gorgeous success — 
until I discovered that I had read the book before. 

It was interesting, however, as showing the 

83 



84 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

tremendous difficulty the waking mind experiences 
in freeing itself from its memories. I spent by far 
the greater part of the time in rejecting images of 
the past and starting afresh with a mind compara- 
tively blank. 

Apart from the items which related to the book 
(already read), I got only a few ideas, mostly con- 
cerning London and the exterior and interior of 
clubs. The only exception was the single word 
" woodknife" which drifted into my mind, seem- 
ingly, from nowhere. A little reflection satisfied 
me that I had never in my life come upon such a 
word, so I jotted it down. 

Two or three days after this I moved, quite un- 
expectedly, to London. On my arrival, I went to 
my club, and having for the moment nothing better 
to do, proceeded to the library, picked out a newly 
published novel, and tried a second experiment. 
Result — nil. In fifteen minutes I got only eight 
images, which did not clearly belong to the " past " 
half of the associational network. One of these 
eight related to a kangaroo hunt in Australia — riders 
and hounds chasing pell-mell after the leaping 
animal. Another comprised the single word 
" narwhal.' ' There was nothing in the book that 
fitted, and presently I threw it aside. 

I then drifted into a little inner library, which is 
an excellent place for a nap. I chose a comfortable 
armchair, and, for appearances' sake, equipped 
myself with another volume — R. F. Benton's 
" Book of the Sword," opening this in the middle. 

Immediately my eyes fell upon a little picture of 
an ancient dagger, underneath which was inscribed 
"Knife (wood)." I sat up at that, and began to 
dip into the book, turning back after a moment to 
page ii. There I came upon a reference to the 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 85 

horn of the narwhal. Reading on, I found on the 
succeeding page the words, " The ' old man' kan- 
garoo, with the long nail of the powerful hind leg, 
has opened the stomach of many a staunch hound." 

Now, there was nothing conclusive here, but it 
was just the sort of suggestive but uncertain thing 
one keeps on getting throughout the dream experi- 
ment, while one is waiting for one's decisive result. 
I was, therefore, encouraged to proceed. 

I tried next with Baroness van Hutten's book, 
" Julia." Result — a quarter of a sheet of notepaper 
of material, the only thing that fitted being " fink 
house" there being a reference in the book to 
* ' fink houses . ' ' (Not good enough .) 

Arnold Bennett's " Riceyman Steps " served for 
the next experiment. I got only three lines of 
material, but these contained the words, "/ am 
entitled to say." On opening the book I found in 
the first paragraph the words, "The man himself 
was clearly entitled to say." 

Then I tried with Mason's "House of the 
Arrow." Here I altered the procedure. I opened 
the book at the beginning, and found the name of 
one of the characters, being careful not to glance at 
any other page. It seemed to me that a name which 
would be likely to occur in close connection with 
many of the incidents of the story would provide a 
better associational link than does the mere idea of 
the book's title. 

I do not know if the present reader is acquainted 
with the " House of the Arrow," and, if he is not, I 
am most unwilling to spoil for him, even in the 
interests of science, the enjoyment of a first-class 
detective story. So I will merely say that the centre 
knot of the whole tangle — the thing upon which 
everything in the plot hangs — is a clock pointing to 



86 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

half -fast ten. This feature, however, does not 
come into the story till halfway through the book. 

The character I had chosen from the opening 
pages as an associational link accompanied the 
detective throughout the latter's investigation. Con- 
centrating attention on that character, the first image 
I saw and noted was that of a clock -pointing to half- 
past ten. 

With Lord Dunsany's book, "The King of 
Elfland's Daughter," I got "Long cliffs of crystal 
looking over dark sea. Fireflies dancing over this 
sea.* 1 Not a bad description of the night scene pic- 
tured in the book, where the long crystal cliffs look 
down upon a mist-covered plain over which the 
lights of Elfland are dancing, advancing, and 
receding. 

I then tried a book of Snaith's, taking the 
heroine's name as an associational link. Here I 
failed completely. But, in the middle of this experi- 
ment, I got one very curious image. 

It was that of an umbrella with a perfectly plain, 
straight handle, a mere thin extension of the main 
stick, and of much the same appearance and dimen- 
sions as the portion which projected at the ferrule 
end. This umbrella, folded, was standing unsup- 
ported, upside down, handle on the pavement, just 
outside the Piccadilly Hotel. 

I happened to pass that way in a bus next day. 
Shortly before we got to the hotel I caught sight of 
a most eccentric-looking figure walking along the 
pavement in the same direction, and on the hotel 
side of the street. It was an old lady, dressed in a 
freakish, very early- Victorian, black costume, poke 
bonnet and all. She carried an umbrella in which 
the handle was merely a plain, thin, unpolished 
extension of the main stick, of much the same 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME %7 

appearance and dimensions as the portion which 
projected at the ferrule end. She was using this 
umbrella — closed, of course — as a walking-stick, 
grasping it pilgrim 's-staff fashion. But she had it 
upside down. She was holding it by the ferrule 
end, and was pounding along towards the hotel with 
the handle on the pavement. 

I need hardly say that I had never before in all 
my life seen anyone use an umbrella that way. 



These experiments showed me that, provided one 
were able to steady one's attention to the task, one 
could observe the "effect" just as readily when 
awake as when sleeping. But that steadying of 
attention is no easy matter. It is true that it makes 
no call upon any special faculty, but it does demand 
a great deal of practice in controlling the imagina- 
tion. Hence, to anyone who is desirous merely of 
satisfying himself as to the existence of the 
" effect," I should recommend the dream-recording 
experiment in preference to the waking attempt. 

But, for studying the problem, the waking experi- 
ment is of distinct value, because one can follow a 
great deal of what one's mind is doing. Also, there 
is no dream-story to complicate matters. 

In my own case, I employed this experiment 
mainly in order to seek for the barrier, if any, which 
divides our knowledge of the past from our know- 
ledge of the future. And the odd thing was that 
there did not seem to be any such barrier at all. 
One had merely to arrest all obvious thinking of the 
past, and the "future would become apparent in 
disconnected flashes. (For, however difficult and 
troublesome the process, that was what, ultimately, 
it resolved itself into.) Yet, if one tried to follow 



88 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

up the "memory train* ' from past to future, one 
came, not so much to a resisting barrier, but to an 
absolute blank. Moreover (and this I discovered 
by separate experiment), if one allowed the attention 
to pass from the image under consideration to 
another which was manifestly associated therewith, 
one remained, so to say, in the " past " part of the 
network. There, attention was completely at home. 
The associated images followed one another in 
swift, easy succession ; attention ran on and on with- 
out noticeable effort or fatigue. 

It was only by rejecting manifest associations with 
the last image, and waiting till something apparently 
disconnected took its place, that attention was 
enabled to slip over the dividing line. 



CHAPTER XIV 

There remains one more dream to be described. 
While not, perhaps, completely conclusive, it was so 
nearly so that it had to be taken into serious account. 
And since, if it really did relate to the future, it 
could not possibly fit in with the solution I happened 
to be favouring at the time, it caused me to abandon 
work on those particular lines, and to hark back to 
an earlier theory. And this, as it turned out, was 
wholly fortunate. 

On the morning after the dream I was, while 
dressing, engaged in following up a long train of 
reminiscences of my school days — a train which led, 
in perfectly logical sequence, to the memory of an 
adventure with a wasp. As a boy I was terrified of 
these insects, and could hardly bring myself to 
remain in the same room with one. Imagine my 
horror, then, when, during a meal in a room with 
an open window, a large wasp entered, flew to me, 
settled on my neck and proceeded to crawl round 
deep down inside my Eton collar. I sat there, 
white as the tablecloth, while a master adjured me, 
quite unnecessarily, not to move. To this day I 
can remember the horrid sensation of the insect's 
soft, faintly felt perambulations. And so, forty- 
four years later, on this particular morning, when 
my train of thought had brought me to that early 
memory, I tried to recall the feel of those crawling 
feet. As I did so I happened to be combing my 
hair ; the comb caught at a particular place on the 
crown of my head, and instantly there came back to 
my mind a dream of the previous night. I had 

89 



90 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

dreamed of that feeling of something catching in 
my hair at that precise point of my scalp, had been 
convinced that a wasp was crawling there, and had 
called to a companion to take it off. 

Now, assuming that this was an anticipatory 
dream— an instance of the "effect" — we have the 
following facts to consider. 

The simultaneous presentation to consciousness 
of the sensory impression of the comb in the scalp 
and the memory image of the feel of the wasp's feet, 
was a straightforward enough example of the process 
of forming an association by "contiguity." And, 
before that association had been formed, it was pre- 
sented in the dream in the shape of an integration. 

A very pretty mixture of experience. 



PART IV 



CHAPTER XV 



Before we begin to look for an explanation, it 
might be as well for us to glance, briefly, at what 
precisely it is that we have to explain. 

First, of course, there is the "effect" itself — 
the apparent temporal disorder of the presentations. 
The actual order of experience, such as might be 
recorded in a diary, runs thus : 

. a! a pre-presentation of A. 

a" a re-presentation (memory) of a'. 

A a presentation. 

a a re-presentation of A. 

If we accept the evidence afforded by the dream 
described in the last chapter, the matter becomes 
more complicated in this respect : It looks as if ^4, 
in the above list, might be any sort of compound of 
presentations. 

Next, we have the following to consider : 
As the result of observing an image of future 
experience, the experimenter takes pencil and 
paper, and notes down, or even makes a sketch of, 
the details of the pre-image observed. In so doing, 
he is performing a definite physical act. But it is 
an act which would never have been performed had 
he not observed that pre-image. In other words, 
he interferes with that particular sequence of 
mechanical events which we postulate as the back- 
bone of our "conscious automaton " or materialistic 
theories. 

91 



92 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

This is barefaced " intervention." But it implies 
something more. These future events are, at any 
rate, real enough to be experienced as pre-presenta- 
tions ; yet — since, as we have just seen, the observer 
can alter his course of action as the result of his 
pre-observation — they are events which, theoreti- 
cally, may be prevented from happening. Are we, 
then, to say that they are only partly real — less real, 
for instance, than are past events ? That is another 
question our explanation has to answer. 

Furthermore, this ability of the observer to inter- 
fere with the course of brain events introduces the 
question of " free-will." Our solution will have to 
make a satisfactory statement in that connection. 

Finally, it is essential that the explanation does 
not contradict the already known facts of psychology 
and psychophysics. And of those facts there are 
some which greatly limit our range of permissible 
speculation. On the psychical side we have the fact 
---dwelt upon in Chapter XIII. — that the memory 
"train" does not run through into the ''future. 
It ends in the "present." On the psychophysical 
side we have all that is included in the usual evi- 
dence for parallelism, and, in particular, the known 
fact that concussion of the brain apparently destroys 
or paralyzes recently formed memories. There can 
be no question but that here something more than 
a mere "motor habit" is affected : the patient's 
mind with regard to such immediately previous 
events seems to be a complete psychological blank. 



CHAPTER XVI 

It is worth noting that Relativity admits of " seeing 
ahead' ' in Time, in the sense that what is future 
to Jones may be present to Brown. But it does 
not admit of an event in the remoter future of Jones 
appearing to Jones a day or two before an event in 
his nearer future. And that is our problem. 



It must be borne in mind that material records 
are indications of the fast only, so far as the thing 
on which those records are imprinted is concerned. 
If, on inspecting a target at a given instant, you 
perceive a round, punctured hole in the corner, you 
may infer that a bullet has passed through at that 
point. But nowhere does that target offer you any 
indication that another puncture is presently going 
to appear therein — at, say, half an inch from the 
centre of the bull's-eye. It is true that, from a 
complete knowledge of all the mechanical move- 
ments which were going on in that quarter of the 
universe at the moment of your inspection, you 
might, if you were possessed of some sort of super- 
lative intelligence, be able to deduce that a bullet 
would shortly strike the bull's-eye at the point in 
question. But that is to confuse the issue. It is 
to introduce a host of indications external to the 
one we are considering — which one is the state of 
the target. That state offers no indication con- 
cerning the coming puncture. So uncommunica- 
tive is it that, in working out your prophecy, you 
would leave the question of present damage or lack 

93 



94 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

of damage entirely out of consideration : it could 
not affect your decision. The target contains no 
"record" of its own future — the indications you 
use are, in fact, everywhere except on that surface. 
But the punctured corner of the target is a record 
of the past history of the target ; and it is from that 
record, and not from a knowledge of what exactly 
was going on throughout the whole of that quarter 
of the universe at some earlier moment of Time, 
that you deduce the past impact of the bullet. 

Punctures in the target are indications of the 
future, in the sense that they are evidence of the 
directions which the bullets may be taking, and so 
indications of what may be going to happen to the 
stop-butt at the back of the target; but they are 
not indications of future punctures in the target 
itself. 

Now, the brain is a material organ, and the state 
of the brain at any given instant is no more an 
indication of what the world outside the brain is 
going to present to that brain in the future than 
is the state of our target an indication of where the 
next bullet is going to strike, or whether a new one 
is going to strike it at all. 



CHAPTER XVII 

It is never entirely safe to laugh at the meta- 
physics of the "man-in-the-street." Basic ideas 
which have become enshrined in popular language 
cannot be wholly foolish or unwarranted. For 
that sort of canonization must mean, at least, that 
the notions in question have stood the test of 
numerous centuries and have been ^accorded 
unhesitating acceptance wherever speech has made 
its way. 

Moreover, the man-in^the-street is, all said and 
done, Homo sapiens — and the original discoverer 
of Time. It was from him, and from him alone, 
that science obtained that view of existence. 

His conclusions regarding the character of his 
discovery seem to have been very emphatic in detail, 
if slightly uncertain in synthesis. His idea was 
that temporal happenings involved motion in a 
fourth dimension. 

Of course he did not call it a fourth dimension,-— 
his vocabulary hardly admitted of that, — but he was 
entirely convinced : 

i. That Time had length, divisible into "past" 
and "future." 

2. That this length was not extended in any 
Space that he knew of. It stretched neither north- 
and-south, nor east-and-west, nor up-and-down, but 
in a direction different to any of those three — that 
is to say, in a fourth direction. 

3. That neither the past nor the future were 
observable. All observable phenomena lay in a 
field situated at a unique "instant" in the Time 

95 



96 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

length, — an instant dividing the past from the 
future, — which instant he called "the present." 

4. That this "present" field of observation 
moved in some queer fashion along the Time 
length; so that events which were at first in the 
future became present and then past. The past 
was thus constantly growing. This motion he 
called the "passage" of Time. 

There is a point here worth noting — a point which 
we shall have to discuss more fully later on. An 
examination of the last paragraph will show that 
many of the words therein refer to another Time, 
and not to the Time stretch over which the passage 
of the " present " field of observation was supposed 
to take place. This, perhaps, will be more readily 
seen if the paragraph be repeated with the words in 
question italicized. 

4. That this "present" field of observation 
moved in some queer fashion along the Time 
length; so that events which were at first in the 
future became present and then past. The past 
was thus constantly growing. 

The employment of these references to a sort of 
Time behind Time is the legitimate consequence 
of having started with the hypothesis of a move- 
ment through Time's length. For motion in Time 
must be timeable. If the moving element is every- 
where along the Time length at once, it is not mov- 
ing. But the Time which times that movement is 
another Time. And the "passage" of that Time 
must be timeable by a third Time. And so on 
ad infinitum* It is pretty certain that it was 
because he had a vague glimpse of this endless array 

* This, of course, has been pointed out before now — 
as an objection to the Newtonian idea of a Time which 
flows. 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 97 

of Times, one, so to say, embracing the other, that 
our discoverer abandoned further analysis. 

But he adhered to his two main conceptions — the 
Time length and the Time motion. And he coined 
special phrases with which to convey to his entirely 
comprehending companions those two very prac- 
tical and useful ideas. He spoke of a "long" 
Time and a "short" Time (never of a broad or 
narrow Time). He referred to the "remote" past 
and the "near" future. He said, "when to- 
morrow comes," and, "when I get to such and 
such an age." In his more poetical moods, he 
declared that Time "flew," and that the years 
"rolled by": he wrote of "life's journey," and 
of living " from day to day." 

He symbolized this general conception of Time 
in several ways ; most exhaustively, perhaps, in his 
sheets of piano music. In these, the dimension 
running up-and-down the page represented Space, 
and intervals measured that way represented dis- 
tances along the instrument's keyboard; while the 
dimension running across the page from side to 
side represented the Time length, and intervals 
measured that way indicated the durations of the 
notes and of the pauses between them. But that 
did not complete the symbol. So far, the page 
represented merely what we should, to-day, call a 
" Space-time continuum." In order to complete 
the symbol, it was intended that the player's 
point of vision should travel from left to right 
along the model Time dimension, and that the 
written chords should be played as this moving 
point, representing the moving " present," reached 
them. 

In another case the Time dimension was repre- 
sented by the circumference of a circle, this length 



98 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

being marked off into portions representing Time 
distances. But that alone did not suffice to convey 
his conception of Time. There was no moving 
"present." So he added a pointer to represent 
this "present," and set it moving over the sym- 
bolical Time dimension by means of machinery. 
The entire contraption was then not only a symbol, 
but an actual working model of Time as he con- 
ceived it. It. was an extremely useful device; and 
he called it a "clock." 

Now, a clock-face without hands; a sheet of 
music which directs that all the chords are to be 
played with one resounding crash ; and the concept 
of a Time length in which every part is equally 
present to a seventy-year-long observer : these three 
things are, to the man-in-the-street, exactly equiva- 
lent in value. 

For he did not conceive Time as having length 
(or infer that Time had length) save for some very 
good and quite imperative reason. Nor is that 
reason in any way hidden or obscure. We all per- 
ceive phenomena as being arranged in two sorts of 
order. There are those which appear to be merely 
separated in Space, and those which appear to be 
"successive" That difference is "given"; it is 
there ; it confronts us, do what we will, or think how 
we may. We must have conceived or perceived 
that Time had length merely as part and parcel of 
an attempt to account for this apparent succession 
of phenomena. So it would have been equally 
part and parcel of that attempt that the Time length 
should be regarded as a length moved-over, a dimen- 
sion in which we travelled from second to second, 
from hour to hour, from year to year, thus coming 
upon the Time-separated events one after the other, 
just as we come upon objects in our mundane jour- 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 99 

neys. The original concept must have appeared 
as a single one — that of length-moved-over. That 
the two component ideas in this complex — Time 
length and Time movement — may possess any 
analytical value regarded entirely apart from each 
other, demands a considerably more advanced 
power of reasoning. 

It was not until comparatively recent years that it 
seems to have occurred to anyone that the man-in- 
the-street's imagined, but unchristened, fourth 
dimension might prove to be a "real " fourth dimen- 
sion, akin to any of the three dimensions of Space. 
D'Alembert (1754) wrote of a friend of his who had 
conceived this notion.* But the earliest printed 
treatise on the subject that I can discover is a mono- 
graph by C. H. Hinton entitled, "What is the 
Fourth Dimension?" and published in 1887. 

Hinton described a little model system of lines sloping 
in different directions but supposedly all connected to a 
rigid framework. If this framework with its fixed, slant- 
ing lines were to be passed slowly downward through a 
fluid plane which stretched at right angles to the direction 
of the motion, " there would be the appearance of a 
multitude of moving points in the plane, equal in number 
to the number of straight lines in the system." If solid 
threads of matter were substituted for the lines, these 
moving points (cross-sections of the threads) would appear 
as moving atoms of matter to an imagined two-dimensional 
being inhabiting the fluid plane and regarding it as all 
the Space there was. Similar considerations would hold 
good for an arrangement of four-dimensional threads of 
matter passing through three-dimensional Space. "Were 
such a thought adopted, we should have to imagine some 
stupendous whole, wherein all that has ever come into 
being or will come co-exists, which, passing slowly on, 

.* I am indebted to Mr. Edwin Slosson for this piece of 
information. 



ioo AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

leaves in this flickering consciousness of ours, limited to 
a narrow space and a single moment, a tumultuous record 
of changes and vicissitudes that are but to us." The 
italics are mine. 

Readers who are not used to visualizing geo- 
metrical figures may find Hinton's description a 
little difficult to follow. It might be as well, there- 
fore, to present the idea in a rather simpler form, 
and to illustrate this by means of a diagram. But, 
before we do so, a word or two of explanation 
regarding Time diagrams in general may not come 
amiss. 

A dimension is not a line. It is any way in which 
a thing can be measured that is entirely different 
from all other ways. In geometry we are measuring 
a fundamental thing called " Extension " — a thing 
which is simply the formal opposite to nothingness. 
We find that, if we set about measuring this in ways 
which appear to be each totally different from all the 
others, these ways must appear to be each at right 
angles to all the others, Thus, if we choose to start 
by regarding north-and-south as one way (one 
dimension), we may consider east-and-west as 
another way, because we can measure off distances 
east-and-west without ever moving northward or 
southward at all. A third way in which we could 
measure without infringing on the other two ways is 
up-and-down. If Time has length, — which is exten- 
sion, — thenTime provides us "with a fourth way, for 
we could measure along Time without moving in 
any of the dimensions already mentioned. A fifth 
way . . . but we have, as yet, no names for any 
other ways. Yet, theoretically, there may be an un- 
limited number of such ways, each at right angles 
to all the others. Mathematicians think nothing of 
considering ten of them. But we cannot visualize 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 101 

more than three at a time, because our bodies and 
brains are machines which are not constructed to 
work in more than three dimensions. 

When it comes to drawing diagrams, we find our- 
selves limited to the use of the two dimensions in 
which the paper is extended — viz., up-and-down 
and from side-to-side. But we may use these two 
dimensions to represent any two dimensions we 
please, — the fourth and the fifth, for example, or the 
first and an imagined one-hundredth, — because, 
whichever two dimensions we choose to represent, 
these must be at right angles to each other in exactly 
the same way as are the dimensions of the paper. 
Thus, we can say that one dimension of the paper 
represents Time, and the other a dimension of 
Space, and thus draw diagrams exhibiting the rela- 
tion of real Time to this Space dimension. For, if 
Time is really extended (has length), it would be 
possible for the diagram to be placed, in exactly 
that fashion, in a plane which extended one way in 
Time and the other way in Space. 

But what about the remaining two dimensions of 
Space? Well, one of them may be considered as 
standing out at right angles to the plane of the 
paper, and may even, if you like, be shown in a 
perspective view. The other cannot be shown at 
all, or even imagined. You merely know that it 
must be considered as extending at right angles to 
the other three. But the simpler kinds of Time 
diagram deal with problems in which the considera- 
tion of more than one or two dimensions of Space 
is unnecessary. 

In the present diagram, we shall consider the 
side-to-side dimension of the paper as representing 
Time, and the up-and-down dimension as represent- 
ing Space. In order to avoid all chance of any 



102 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

reader confusing a dimension with a line, I propose 
to place a little dimension-indicator in the corner 
of the picture, just as a cartographer places in the 
corner of his map a little diagram showing the points 
of the compass. Time will be indicated by T, and 
Space by S. 

Here, then, is Hinton's idea, pictured in two 




->T 



Fig. i. 



dimensions, but with lines of a rather more varied 
character than had those which he took into con- 
sideration. 

The full lines represent material threads extend- 
ing (enduring) in Time. If you examine any one 
of these lines, you will notice that the points of which 
it is composed are placed at different positions in 
Space (different heights in the page) at different 
moments in Time (different distances from the 
margin). The dotted line AB represents a section 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 103 

of what Hinton called a "fluid plane" (you may 
imagine the rest of it as sticking out at right 
angles to the paper, though that is quite un- 
necessary). The arrow-head to the T in the little 
dimension-indicator shows that AB is to be regarded 
as moving, without tilting one way or another, 
straight along the Time dimension. The arrows at 
the top and bottom of the moving line are merely 
there to reinforce this idea. They will be omitted, 
as a rule, in subsequent diagrams. 

If AB were to travel thus, the little bits of the full 
lines, where these are intersected at C, D, E, F, G, 
and H , would appear as moving either towards A or 
towards B — as moving, that is to say, in Space. (If 
you will cut, in a piece of paper, a fine slit to repre- 
sent AB, lay this on the diagram with the slit parallel 
to AB, and then slide the paper in the direction of 
the arrow, you will see these apparent movements 
with great clearness.) 

A creature whose field of observation was thus 
limited to AB would be aware, therefore, of a little 
world of moving particles. But you and I, whose 
field of observation covers the whole diagram, per- 
ceive that the actual bits of the full lines inter- 
sected do not really move about on the page : what 
happens is merely that the sectional views of the 
lines move as our eyes follow the movement of AB. 
And the only thing which seems to us to really move 
over the page is the line AB. 

So, according to Hinton' s theory, a being who 
could see Time's extension as well as that of Space 
would regard the particles of our three-dimensional 
world as merely sectional views of fixed material 
threads extending in a fourth dimension, and would 
consider that the only thing in the entire Cosmos 
that really moved was that three-dimensional field 



104 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

of observation which we call the ' ' present 
moment. " 

Hinton thus assumes that the past and the future 
"co-exist," and that our experience of change is 
due to a relative motion between this Time exten- 
sion and that "narrow space and a single moment " 
which is the present. But he refrains from noting 
that such relative motion must take Time. 

As a contribution to the subject, Hinton's exposi- 
tion was remarkable, in that it clearly indicated the 
part that must be played by matter in any careful 
interpretation of the man-in-the-street's vague idea. 
According to Hinton, matter, as exemplified by his 
"threads," extended in the Time dimension. 

The man-in-the-street has never definitely carried 
his analysis thus far. To him, it seems essential 
that something should move in Time; but there is 
no evidence that he has ever realized that there 
would be a vast difference between (a) a system in 
which his three-dimensional field of observation 
moved through a stationary world of four-dimen- 
sional matter, and (b) a system in which he and a 
three-dimensional material world moved together, 
en bloc, through a blank. 

The latter concept is, of course, entirely devoid 
of meaning. Its acceptance may, in fact, be said 
to constitute the great Time Fallacy. Movement 
of the universe as a whole through a thousand such 
featureless dimensions could not make the slightest 
difference to what was going on in that universe : it 
could not explain or account for any phenomenon 
whatsoever, temporal or otherwise. There would 
be no change, no experience of succession, which 
would not be equally apparent in the absence of that 
supposed motion. Nor would the concept of such 
a motion amplify or abstract from any concepts that 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 105 

you can entertain without thinking of such a 
motion. 

The man who allows himself to drift unwittingly 
from his original concept of an occupied Time, — a 
dimension in which he travels from event to event, 
— and who begins to entertain in its place the mean- 
ingless idea of his travel through an empty and 
ineffectual continuum, seldom proceeds very far in 
his thinking before, perceiving the nonsensicalness 
of his new idea, he decides that " there is no such 
thing as Time." 



CHAPTER XVIII 

To Hinton there was no qualitative difference 
between the Time dimension and the dimensions of 
Space. He started with four dimensions of Ex- 
tension, all fundamentally alike, and his problem 
was to discover why any human being should regard 
one of these as specially distinguished from all the 
others. He found his answer in the idea of a three- 
dimensional field of observation moving up the 
four-dimensional block. This, it will be noted, 
made the apparent Time dimension the same for 
all observers, no matter which way the bundles of 
material threads representing their bodies happened 
to be inclined in the whole dimensional extension. 
His travelling field would, thus, be a constituent of 
the universe which existed independently of the 
existence of any individual observer. 

Mr, H. G. Wells took a slightly different view. 
And, in the "Time Machine," published seven 
years later, he, through the mouth of one of his 
fictional characters, stated his case with a clearness 
and conciseness which has rarely, if ever, been sur- 
passed. 

He begins by insisting on the necessity of regard- 
ing Time as a fourth dimension. (Hinton had not 
perceived this.) It is a way in which matter must 
be measured. 

" There can be no such thing as an instantaneous 
cube . . . any real body must have Length, 
Breadth, Thickness, and . . . Duration." 

Matter, thus, for him, as for Hinton, extends 
(endures) in Time. 

" For instance, here is a portrait of a man at 
eight years old, another at fifteen, another at seven- 
teen, another at twenty-three, and so on. All these 

106 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 107 

are evidently sections, as it were, Three-dimen- 
sional representations of his Four-dimensional 
being, which is a fixed and unalterable thing." 

(The portraits in question would have needed to 
be sculptured, three dimensional figures. But the 
meaning is clear.) 

He emphasized and re-emphasized the fact that 
there was no qualitative difference between a Time 
dimension and a Space dimension. There was an 
apparent distinction, drawn by the observer, but no 
such distinction if you left the observer out of it. 

" There are really four dimensions, three of which 
we call the three planes of Space, and a fourth, 
Time. There is, however, a tendency to draw an 
unreal distinction between the former and the latter, 
because it happens that our consciousness moves 
intermittently in one direction along the latter from 
the beginning to the end of our lives." 

A little later on, he refers to the Time-moving 
elements as "our mental existences." Note the 
use of the plural. There is no all-embracing mov- 
ing stratum, filling Space between the different 
observers, but a number of "mental existences," 
one for each observer, and it is the motion of 
these which alone determines which dimension is 

Time.* 

Now, that statement implies something which 
Wells did not specifically mention. Each of such 
mental existences would be centred in or about the 
corresponding observer's brain, and so, in its travel, 
would be bound to follow whatever bundle of fixed 
lines in the four-dimensional extension represented 
that brain. Hence, if it were the travel of the 

1 

* In the story which follows, the hero is granted an amount 
of geometrical freedom considerably greater than such a 
theory would allow. But that — to the reader — is a matter 
for rejoicing rather than complaint. 



108 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

"mental existence" which caused the observer to 
make an artificial distinction between Time and 
Space, each observer would regard Time as stretch- 
ing in the direction in which his body line extended. 
It would follow that his body line would seem to 
him to be running straight up this Time dimension 
of his, and not to be bending this way and that in 
Space — i.e., sitting in a railway train, he would 
seem to himself (until he began to speculate about 
it) to be at rest. 

Moreover, the body lines of different observers 
are never parallel. Our bodies do not remain a 
constant distance apart from one another in Space. 
Therefore, different observers would hold slightly 
differing opinions as to the correct directions of the 
Time and Space dimensions. 

For the rest, we may note, that, like Hinton, 
Wells fails to mention that anything which moves 
in Time must take Time over its movement. 

* # * # # 

Relativity " is a particular theory grafted on to 
the general theory of Time-dimensional universes. 
Consequently, its survival or demise cannot affect 
the validity of that general theory. 

The Relativitists exactly reversed the procedures 
of the nineteenth century Time-dimensionalists. 
Certain apparent anomalies in certain optical ex- 
periments led Einstein to enunciate, for the first time 
in history, the idea that different individuals might 
hold different views regarding both Time (as told 
by clocks) and Space (as measured by rods). From 
this, Minkowski deduced the existence of a four- 
dimensional extension in which there was no quali- 
tative distinction between the dimensions, but only 
an apparent distinction, each observer regarding 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 109 

Time as stretching in the direction of his own, 
apparently straight body-line. 

But Einstein's theory embraces a further supposi- 
tion ; one which, unfortunately, removes the subject 
to regions largely beyond the comprehension of the 
man-in-the-street. This "Space-Time" extension 
is said to be not "flat," but "curved." 

Neither of these Relativitist additions have any 
determinating influence upon the broader doctrine 
with which we shall be concerned in this book, — a 
doctrine which relates to Time-dimensional theory 
in general, — and the reader may accept or reject the 
Einstein teachings without committing himself to 
agreement or disagreement with anything in the 
following pages. 

The extensions of Time-extended objects are 
usually, in Relativity theory, called "World 
lines"; but they are sometimes referred to as 
"Tracks." "An individual," says Professor 
Eddington,* "is a four-dimensional object of 
greatly elongated form; in ordinary language we 
say that he has considerable extension in time and 
insignificant extension in space. Practically he is 
represented by a line — his track through the world." 
The addition of those last five words to an otherwise 
perfectly complete statement may seem to the reader 
something akin to "hedging" — for how can the 
line be both the observer and the observer's path? 
But Eddington, a little farther on, is at pains to 
make his own view clear. The "track" of the 
(presumably physical) observer is that observer 
" kirns elf" The italics are Eddington's own. 
And, again, lower down on the same page, he 
remarks : "A natural body extends in time as well 
as in space, and is therefore four-dimensional." 

* "Space Time and Gravitation," p. 57. 



no AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

This seems plain enough. To any specific 
observer contemplating such a system of fixed, 
objective lines, the appearance of motion in the 
dimensions representing Space could be produced, 
as in Hinton's model, by the real movement, along 
the observer's "track" of a field of observation 
apparently at right angles to the dimension repre- 
senting Time. But to suggest anything of that 
kind would be to hint that this Time-travelling field 
of observation pertained to a psychical observer. 
For the physical observer is already defined as the 
"track" travelled over. 

Now, the Relativitist has a very difficult case to 
present, and he certainly does not want to be handi- 
capped with the burden of a psychical observer. 
On the other hand, he does not wish to appear to 
ignore the fact that we observe events in succession. 
It is this quandary which drives him to a statement 
which appears to be intended as non-committal. 
The " observer " is said to move along his " track," 
and the reader is left to infer what he pleases from 
that. 

Unfortunately, however, the reader has usually 
been allowed to infer that by "observer" is meant 
a physical apparatus, inorganic or organic. So he 
can hardly be blamed for supposing that he is 
intended to understand that the "track" is formed 
merely by the peculiar warpings of the Relativitist's 
"Space-Time," and that the physical elements of 
the observer's body move over the tracks, leaving 
these empty before and behind. 

If, however, he were to assert that this is the 
teaching of Relativity, he would be told that a track 
which possessed reality in such a sense and to such 
an extent as to account for all the physical charac- 
teristics of an imagined three-dimensional object 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME in 

moving along it would be, in every one of its cross- 
sections, physically indistinguishable from the 
imagined object itself. Physically, the track would 
actually be the object extended in Time. 

And that is the crux of the whole business. Any- 
thing that could properly be regarded as moving 
along the track would have to be something different 
from the fixed sections of the track itself. 

The Relativitists, having committed themselves 
to the idea of motion along these Time-extended 
tracks, find themselves, like everybody else, com- 
pelled to consider that conception of a Time 
embracing Time which must always accompany the 
idea of anything moving in Time. Here, their 
habit of writing of the tracks, sometimes as exten- 
sions of physical objects, and at other times as the 
paths of travelling, non-extended, physical objects 
— of writing, in fact, as if the two conceptions were 
identical — seems to lead them into some confusion. 
They speak of clocks, physical instruments, as 
moving along the tracks, and as recording the rates 
of their progress. But the clock is, physically, a 
bundle of the tracks, and cannot move over itself. 
While, psychologically, it is merely a moving cross- 
sectional view of that bundle of tracks, and so does 
not provide any physical registration of the rate of 
its movement. 

Relativity, as already said, comprises a great 
deal more than a collection of logical and experi- 
mental proofs of the old, general fourth-dimensional 
theory of Time. But there seem to be only two 
points in its teaching which are of immediate con- 
cern to ourselves : 

i. The Relativitist recognizes the existence of a 
Time embracing Time, even though he may not 
realize that this is a serial conception. 



ii2 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

2. It is part of Relativity theory that the tracks 
before and behind the position of any assumed 
Time-travelling observer possess, in all their cross- 
sections, all the observable characteristics of a 
three-dimensional world of matter. 



CHAPTER XIX 

We are now, I think, justified in accepting three 
propositions : 

i. That the brain contains memory traces of our 
past, attended-to experiences. 

There seems to be no escaping this conclusion. 
Concussion does not destroy merely the ability to 
give verbal or other expression to the memories 
involved. The memories themselves are in some 
way affected, for the patient's mind appears to him- 
self to be completely blank so far as these memories 
are concerned. And, since the physiological evi- 
dence is that such traces must in any case be 
formed, and must be destructible, we have no 
grounds on which to seek for any other explanation 
of the facts. 

2. That Time has length, divisible into years, 
days, minutes, etc., — a length in which each instant 
lies between two neighbouring instants, — a length 
in which events are situated. 

That is the standard conception. And its enun- 
ciation is equivalent to saying that Time is a fourth 
way in which length can be measured — a fourth 
dimension of Extension. 

We are not, however, accepting Proposition 2 
merely because it embodies the popular view. We 
do so because it follows logically from Proposi- 
tion 1. For we have to recognize that a brain 
stimulation which is past, and a similar brain stimu- 
lation at a much later period, are, not one and the 
same event, but two events separated by intervening 
events. We might have imagined that separation 

113 8 



ii4 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

as being in some fourth-dimensional ' ' memory 
train." But Proposition i rules out that idea. We 
start with the conception of memory as being merely 
the re-stimulation of an old brain trace. Hence we 
have to regard the separation of the two brain events 
as being in Time.* 

Incidentally this means that our Time length is 
not unoccupied; it contains physical configurations. 
This argument might have been useful, were it not 
that the reader is, I take it, already satisfied by the 
argument in Chapter XVII. that the conception of 
Time as having length is utterly meaningless unless 
that length is regarded as occupied by such events. 
Moreover, if Time has length, the endurance of 
anything in Time must mean, as Wells pointed out, 
extension in that length. 

The question as to whether each individual has 
his own private Time direction, or whether there is 
only one Time direction, common to all observers, 
is a question which will be immaterial to our argu- 
ment; and the reader may accept whichever view 
he pleases. 

3. That the observer observes cerebral events — 
or, if you prefer it, their psychical correlates — -in 
succession. 

The reader who wishes to dispute this proposi- 
tion, or to assert its non-significance in the realm of 
our practical knowledge, must be prepared to main- 
tain, whenever he suffers from gout, toothache, 
indigestion, rheumatism, or any other of the pains 
which punctuate our earthly histories, that the dis- 
comfort which he is actually enduring has no more 
real significance to him than has a similar pain which 
he remembers as having happened in the past — that 

* See also the criticism of Bergsonism in the third section 
of the present chapter. 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 115 

he is feeling the two pains, past and present, 
equally. To avoid all possible misconception as to 
what this succession in experience implies, let us 
consider your physical cerebrum asa" world-line " 
(Fig. 2) extended in Time. We are not consider- 
ing motion in Time, but only extension therein. 

At A, B, and C the cerebrum is in a condition 
which means acute discomfort to the observer, C 
.being that point, called " death,' ' where bodily dis- 
solution begins. It may be argued that the cere- 
bral section at A is experiencing the discomfort at 
A, and that the cerebral section at B is experiencing 



Fig. 2. 



the discomfort at B, and so, of course, is not 
experiencing the discomfort at A or C. But the 
point is that you, whom we will assume to be experi- 
encing the discomfort at B, did experience the dis- 
comfort at A, and may be looking forward with con- 
siderable misgiving to the experiencing of the dis- 
comfort at C. Why should the cerebral section at 
B be in a state of alarm about what is happening 
to the cerebral section at C? It is not going to 
experience that particular discomfort itself: it 
remains where it is. But you, the observer, know 
only too well that you are not going to continue 
observing the cerebral event at B. You know that 
you will presently be observing the cerebral event 
at C, and that, even though C represents the end of 
your little personal cinema show, no power of yours 



n6 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

can prevent its ultimate occupation of your screen 
of observation. Your field of observation must 
have moved, therefore, from A to B, and be moving 
from B towards C* 



We may note here that we need not trouble to 
debate the question as to whether the idea of Time 
as having length is an analytical device or the recog- 
nition of a "reality." Analytical devices are 
merely instruments for rendering manifest differ- 
ences and relations which, without such assistance, 
would remain concealed. But unless these rela- 
tions are already there, waiting to be brought to 
light, the analytical device can exhibit nothing new. 
It is true that such contrivances may describe 
phenomena in a language of their own, — as the mer- 
cury column in a thermometer indicates degrees of 
temperature in terms of divisions of height, or as the 
mathematician represents variables in terms of x 
and y, — but that does not affect the question. 
Whatever the analytical device exhibits must have 
its corresponding characteristics in the underlying 
reality; and that is all that need concern the man 
of science. 

However, lest the reader should suspect that he 
is being manoeuvred into a position he did not 
intend to adopt, it might be as well to point out this : 
All the practical, everyday questions he asks him- 
self regarding Time are questions based upon the 
assumptions that Time has length, that events are 
positioned along that length, and that he experi- 
ences these events in succession. The answers to 
those questions must, therefore, be given in terms 
of those assumptions. 

* The reader will find this argument elaborated at greater 
length when we come to make use of it in Part V. 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 



lift 



It might, also, be advisable, at this point, to warn the 
reader against a conception which is in the nature of a 
trap. "Why," it may be asked, "do all these Time- 
dimensionalists, past and present, exhibit their physical 
' world-lines ' as extending ahead of that ' present 
moment ' represented by AB in Fig. I ? Why should 
we not modify that diagram, and say that the world- 
lines are growing in Time, as shown in Fig. 3 ?" 




->T 



Fig. 3. 

The answer is that such a conception offends against 
the scientific law of the Economy of Hypothesis. That 
law forbids us to introduce, when considering a problem, 
more hypotheses than are strictly needed to cover the 
facts. For an unnecessary hypothesis is an unwarranted 
hypothesis. 

Consider how the law applies in the present case. 
Fig. 4 represents the facts to be considered before we 
introduce the clarifying conception of Time's length. It 
represents a world of Space in which particles are moving 
about. 

In this diagram we have — 



H8 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 



i. Physical objects, C, D, E, F, G, and H. 

2. Only one kind of activity — the motions of these 
objects up and down in the dimension representing 
Space. But these motions may be of varying velocity — 
a characteristic which we find it very difficult to compre- 
hend or define. In fact, we had to wait till Newton's 
day before we could exhibit such varying velocities as 
determined by laws. 

A 

c 



Fig. 4. 



Now, introducing a Time dimension, we have, in Fig. 1 
(the reader is advised to glance back at this) — 

The physical objects, one dimension larger than in 
Fig. 4. 

In comparison with this, we have, in Fig. 3 — 

The physical objects, also one dimension larger than in 
Fig. 4. But, in addition — unnecessary addition — we have 
it that these extended objects must be conceived as being 
perpetually added to by a process of creation. This is a 
very strange proposition, and one for which we have no 
evidence whatsoever. 

Turning to the way in which motion is exhibited, we 
have, in Fig. 1 — 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME uQ 

Still no more than one kind of activity — the motion of 
AB in the Time dimension. 

We have gained, however, this much : We have suc- 
ceeded in generalizing motion (a very important thing 
from the mathematical and philosophical point of view). 
We have got rid of all the varying, reciprocating motions 
of Fig. 4, and have substituted for these the single, simple, 
uniform motion of AB in the Time dimension. 

In comparison with this, we have, in Fig. 3 — 

Activity in the Time dimension (as in Fig. 1); for the 
world-lines are being constructed by uniform growth in 
that dimension. 

But we also still have activity in the Space dimension 
(as in Fig. 4) ; for the world-lines are being constructed by 
growth in that dimension as well as in the Time dimension. 

Moreover, we still have the original complexity of motion 
of Fig. 4; for the growings in the Space dimension are of 
varying velocities. 

Thus, while Fig. 1 involves the minimum of hypotheses 
necessary to cover the facts, and, incidentally, reduces 
motion to its simplest aspect, Fig. 3 introduces an addi- 
tional, and so quite unnecessary, hypothesis — an hypo- 
thesis, moreover, which, instead of simplifying our idea 
of motion, adds further complexity thereto, and an hypo- 
thesis which is, in itself, of an extremely dubious character. 

So our choice lies between Fig. 4 and Fig. 1, according 
as to whether we do or do not want to analyze the 
significance of Time. 

The reader will, perhaps, forgive me if I conclude this 
chapter with a section addressed more particularly to 
students of Bergsonian philosophy. 



Fig. 3 seems to me to represent with absolute accuracy 
the conception of Time finally adopted by Professor Henri 
Bergson in his essay published the year following the 
appearance of Hinton's monograph. The date is of 
interest as showing that the fourth-dimensional theory of 
Time was well to the fore in those days. 

Bergson begins by considering the supposed four 
dimensions of Extension, — three of Space and one of 
'* duration," — and argues that the last-named is spurious. 



120 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

From this one is apt to assume, rightly or wrongly, that 
by "duration" is meant Time, and that Bergson is 
attempting an analysis of Fig. 4 without employing the 
device of a Time dimension. 

The moments of "pure duration," he holds, are not 
external to one another, but are "superposed," presum- 
ably as a printer might superpose pictures. 

Presently, however, it becomes clear that "pure dura- 
tion" is not "Time." 

"To sum up," he says, "every demand for explana- 
tion in regard to freedom comes back, without our sus- 
pecting it, to the following question : ' Can time be 
adequately represented by space?' To which we" (i.e., 
Professor Bergson) "answer: 'Yes, if you are dealing 
with time flown; no, if you speak of time flowing.' "* 

And that, obviously, is what is represented in Fig. 3. 

"Pure duration" thus seems to be identifiable with 
the man-in-the-street's " present " and Hinton's moving 
"narrow space and single moment" — the line AB in 
Fig- 3- 

But Bergson sees that this acceptance of a Time 
dimension with moments which are external to one 
another is not enough. His "pure duration" also has 
its moments, and these are not external to one another, 
but superposed. 

He leaves us, thus, to contemplate two" sets of moments 
— those which are superposed, and those in the " past " 
part of a Time dimension. 

» Speaking entirely for myself, I should say that Bergson's 
superposed moments of " pure duration " are his acknow- 
ledgments of the existence of that Time embracing Time 
which insists on obtruding itself into every attempt at 
temporal analysis. His growing "past" takes Time to 
grow. But it would seem that Bergson, unwilling to 
recognize such a series of Times, and compelled by his 
earlier pages to grudge every inch of extension to any sort 
of Time whatsoever, has to take refuge in the "super- 
position " idea. 

Professor H. Wildon Carr (vide p. 114 of "The 
Philosophy of Change ") seems to exhibit Bergson's theory 

* " Time a^d Freewill," p. 221. 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 121 

in a slightly different light, the element in Fig. 3 which 
grows as a train of past events being called " Memory." 
Remembering is, thus, a backward jumping of conscious- 
ness in a memory dimension. This theory, presumably, 
is what compels Bergson to devote so much time to a 
courageous, if rather forlorn, attack upon the accepted 
physiological view of memory. But Fig. 3 serves equally 
well to illustrate Wildon Carr's interpretation. We have 
merely to change the T in the dimension-indicator into 
an M standing for memory, and to label our moving line 
AB as DD standing for Bergson's " pure duration." 

In either case the diagram stands condemned for the 
same reason as before : it introduces the totally un- 
necessary hypothesis of continual creation out of nothing, 
in addition to extension in a fourth dimension; and this 
at the cost of still further increasing, instead of simplify- 
ing, the complex character of variable motion. 

Bergson's attitude as regards future events is emphatic. 
As in Fig. 3, they simply do not exist in any shape or 
form whatsoever. His argument for freewill is based upon 
that. 



PART V 

CHAPTER XX 

A " Series " is a collection of individually dis- 
tinguishable items arranged, or considered as 
arranged, in a sequence determined by some sort 
of ascertainable law. The members of the series, — 
the individually distinguishable items, — are called 
its " Terms." 

The nature of the terms, when these are con- 
sidered apart from their standings as members of 
the series, is of small consequence to the mathe- 
matician. The terms may be, let us say, peas in a 
pod, or the oscillations of a pendulum, or ridges 
and furrows in ploughland, or the stresses along a 
cantilever girder — it is all one to him. His interest 
is concentrated on the relation between the terms — 
the relation which links each term to the next and 
makes manifest the law that binds the whole into 
an ordered extension. 

This characteristic relation between the terms 
may or may not affect the values of the terms them- 
selves. Thus the essential significance of a pea 
is not, that I know, greatly affected by the fact that 
it lies in a row of similar peas. But each swing 
of the pendulum owes the extent of its movement 
to the previous swing. And the stresses at any 
place in the cantilever girder, due to an applied 
load at the girder end, depend for their magnitudes 
upon the particular relation connecting the series 
of stresses along the structure. (For instance, in 

123 



124 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

the simple beam shape, the values of the forces 
acting upon the uprights and diagonals constitute 
series of equal terms; but the values of the forces 
acting upon the longitudinal members constitute 
series in arithmetical progression.) 

In the first term of a series, the relation which 
links the terms is absent on one side; and this lop- 
sidedness may have a very practical significance. 
Thus the first swing of the pendulum has no 
previous swing to determine it : it must be started 
by an external agency. The first furrow in a 
ploughed stretch differs in section from all the 
others. And the forces acting on the end members 
of our cantilever girder are balanced at the outer 
ends, not by pushes and pulls in similar members, 
as elsewhere in the series, but by the externally 
applied end-load. 

Now, we have seen that if Time passe* or grows 
or accumulates or expends itself or does anything 
whatsoever except stand rigid and changeless before 
a Time-fixed observer, there must be another Time 
which times that activity of, or along, the first 
Time, and another Time which times that second 
Time, and so on in an apparent series to infinity. 
And we might suppose that every philosopher who 
found himself face to face with this conspicuous, 
unrelenting vista of Times behind Times would 
proceed, without a moment's delay, to an exhaustive 
and systematic examination of the character of the 
apparent series, in order to ascertain (a) what were 
the true serial elements in the case, and (b) whether 
the serialism were or were not the sort of thing 
that might prove of importance. For, of course, it 
might turn out to be an entirely negligible affair. 
But, to people who have devoted their lives to the 
search for a simple explanation of the universe, 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 125 

the idea that one of their approximate funda- 
mentals — next door, indeed, to the sought-for 
nothingness — might prove to be of a serial character 
would be bound to appear a supposition to be 
avoided at almost any cost. Quite rightly, they 
would pause, and look round for some shorter path. 
Yet to a halt of that kind one is obliged to set a 
limit. To stand, for twenty-two centuries, staring 
at a perfectly open road is not necessarily at 
variance with the recognized traditions of philo- 
sophical procedure. But it would be a pity to risk 
having this estimable circumspection mistaken for 
commonplace somnolence. 



CHAPTER XXI 

Whether we embark upon the analysis of a serial 
time because of the logical compulsion, or whether 
we do so from motives of curiosity as to what sort of 
a country such an avenue would be likely to reveal, 
we must realize that, if we discover anything which 
is not already manifest in the ordinary, accepted 
first stage of the series, that thing will be some- 
thing outside the purview of any philosophy which 
has been developed upon the basis of a uni-dimen- 
sional Time. That is to say, it will be something 
entirely strange to our present views of existence. 
We shall have, therefore, no right to halt and haver 
merely because we encounter novelty — novelty is 
what we are expecting to find. We must bear in 
mind, moreover, that serialism in Time is almost 
bound to signify serialism in other matters. In 
actual fact (the reader had best be warned of the 
worst) we shall find that it involves a serial observer. 

In these circumstances the strictly proper course 
will be for us to get the analysis finished first, — 
regardless of whether what is exhibited appears as 
probable or the reverse, so long as it follows 
logically from our premises, — and then proceed to 
ascertain whether the results do or do not assimilate 
with the general body of our knowledge. And, 
as it happens, this is one of those cases where the 
adoption of a correct method is imperative; for it 
is not until the analysis is finished that the new 
conceptions begin to assume any sort of complete 
significance. 

The reader, then, is advised to put all thoughts 

126 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 127 

of meanings and implications entirely out of his 
mind until we come to the next chapter, and to 
regard the present analysis as a simple mental 
exercise of no more actual import than a cross- 
word puzzle. So that all he will need to do for 
the moment is to satisfy himself that the three 
laws recited at the conclusion of this chapter are 
laws which have been properly deduced from our 
premises, and that they represent quite truly the 
relations between the terms of our series. 



" From the windows of our railway carriage," 
says Professor Eddington, "we see a cow glide 
past at fifty miles an hour, and remark that the 
creature is enjoying a rest." 

This is an illustration which pleases in more 
ways than one; and I regret to have to interrupt 
the reader's contemplation thereof in order to 
direct his attention to a picture painted in less 
enticing colours. But we have to get on. 

We are still, then, seated in the same carriage; 
but this is now standing at a railway station. 
Looking from the windows on the side remote from 
the platform, we perceive another train at rest 
upon the rails. As we watch it a whistle blows, and 
we become aware that our train is beginning to pull 
out. Faster and faster it goes ; the windows of the 
opposite train are running swiftly across the field 
of view; but ... a doubt arises ... we miss the 
accustomed vibration of our vehicle. We glance 
towards the platform windows, and discover, with 
something of a shock, that our carriage is still 
stationary. It is the other train which is moving. 

Now, in the first of these two cases attention is 
fixed upon the visual phenomenon of the cow; this 



128 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

phenomenon moves across the "field of presenta- 
tion/' and attention follows it. We judge that 
attention is directed to a point in the field of 
presentation corresponding to something which is 
fixed in external Space; and that, while attention 
is thus fixed, the field of presentation, and the 
observer, move. 

In the other instance, again, the visual phenome- 
non of a window pertaining to the opposite train 
moves across the field of presentation, and attention 
follows that phenomenon. Again we judge that 
attention is fixed and that the field— with the 
observer — is moving; but afterwards, in the light 
of other evidence, we reverse that judgment and 
say that the field and observer must have been 
fixed, and that attention must have moved. 

In each case, then, the judgment may differ; but 
in each case the direct psychological experience is 
of the same general character. The phenomenon 
observed, whether this be the cow or the window 
of the opposite train, moves across the field of 
presentation — followed by the focus of attention — 
until it disappears at the edge of the field. And 
in each case the field of presentation remains fixed 
with regard to the observer. 

Such a field of presentation, fixed with regard 
to the observer, and in which conscious observation, 
condensed to the shifting focus called " attention" 
is assumed to be taking place, ?s bound to be the 
starting-point of our analysis. (All readings of 
instruments are perceived as appearances within 
that field.) It must be remembered, however, that 
the field contains phenomena other than visual; it 
embraces, in fact, every species of mental phenome- 
non which, whether attended-to or not, is being 
presented for observation. It represents the 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 129 

observer's outlook on Space. And, on our theory, 
it occupies the same spacial position as does that 
portion of the observer's cerebrum which is in the 
state of apparent activity associated with the pro- 
duction of observable psychical phenomena. 

We shall represent this spacial position of field 
and cerebrum by CD in Fig. 5, the up-and-down 
dimension of the paper being regarded as Space. 
Temporal measurements are not yet shown. 

Since the contents of CD are to be considered 
as in a state of apparent activity, they must be 
imagined as apparently moving up and down in 



Fig. 5. 

the dimension representing Space. Moreover, the 
length of CD is uncertain; for larger or smaller 
portions of the cerebrum may be active at different 
instants. The diagram is to be looked upon, in 
fact, not only as a model, but as a working model. 
We indicate this by fitting two little arrowheads to 
the dimension-indicator at the bottom of the 
diagram, showing that apparent motion in Space is 
supposed to be taking place. 

(It must be remembered that, according to the 
more commonly accepted view of Space, CD itself 
may be moving as a whole in the Space dimension.) 

Fig. 5 is our starting-point. It does not repre- 

9 



130 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

sent a " term " in the series ; for Time is not being 
indicated therein at all. 

To the observer whose field of presentation 
occupies the spacial position CD, events are pre- 
sented in succession. To him Time is apparent as 
an insistent characteristic of existence — a charac- 
teristic which, though real enough to be of immense 
personal importance, cannot be defined in terms of 
the three-dimensional limits of his spacial outlook. 
Phenomena in his field seem to move about, alter, 
and vanish. And these changes appear to " take 
Time." He endeavours to identify this "Time 
taken" with a bit of Space moved over by some 
indicator such as a clock-hand; but fails because 
he cannot rid himself of the knowledge that the 
movement of the clock-hand is not measurable in 
terms of the clock-face alone. The hand "takes 
Time " over its movement : it may traverse the 
clock-face quickly or slowly. Stopping the clock 
does not prevent other movements from "taking 
Time." He is aware of a growing store of 
memories; but is certain that this growth is also a 
process which ''takes Time." Even when he sits 
in the dark and thinks,- he is aware that such think- 
ing is " taking Time." And when he recovers from 
an anaesthetic, he has evidence that Time has 
" elapsed." 

He realizes that this " Time " which is " taken " 
is a measurable thing ; that the measurement in- 
volved is of the simple, one-way kind called 
"extension"; and that, in this extension, the 
phenomena he observes persist for longer or shorter 
lengths. And, since we are in entire agreement 
with him, we will proceed to introduce this dimen- 
sion of extension into our diagram as the side-to- 
side dimension of 'the paper. 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 131 

The total process may be more easily followed 
if we divide it into two half-steps. The first of 
these consists merely in showing the physical 
elements in the cerebrum CD as having extension 
(i.e., endurance) in Time. We begin by taking an 
instantaneous photograph of Fig. 5. To avoid 
trouble with the Relativitists, we shall assume that 
we are standing side by side with the proprietor of 
CD. We may, thus, consider the positions which 
the apparently moving elements exhibit in that 
photograph as their position at that particular 
instant of Time which both we and the owner of 
the cerebrum in question regard as the "present" 
instant. This photograph is shown as CD in Fig. 6 
(a), or as CD' in Fig. 6 (b). We show the "past" 
and "future" states of the apparently moving 
elements of Fig. 5 as occupying fixed positions to, 
respectively, the left and right of CD (or CD') 
in a Time dimension. 

These "past," "present," and "future" states 
will together give us a band of wavy lines enduring 
(extending) in Time. A vertical (spacial) cross- 
section taken anywhere in this band will indicate 
what psychoneural phenomena would be observed 
at that instant of Time — if the field of presentation 
were there. 

But although " past " and " future " states of the 
cerebral elements are shown as entities occupying 
fixed positions in the Time dimension, it is ques- 
tionable whether we are treating the field of presen- 
tation in the same way. The fact that CD in 
Fig. 6 (a) or CD' in Fig. 6 (b) is a snapshot of 
the moving elements of Fig. 5 at an instant of 
Time which both we and the owner of the cerebral 
elements photographed regard as the "present" 
instant, seems to suggest that CD (or CD') is the 



132 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

only field of presentation in the whole extension. 
We note this en passant, and, while waiting for 
further light on the subject, proceed to consider 
the essential difference between Figs. 6 (a) and 
6(b). 



(a) 




(*) 



B 




Fig. 6. 

It will be seen that whereas, in Fig. 6 (a), the 
band of lines is shown running straight along the 
Time dimension, the trend in Fig. 6 (b) is slightly 
aslant. This is because AA' represents the only 
possible extension according to the views of those 
who, like the Relativitists, hold that distinctions 
between Space dimensions and Time dimensions 
are merely artificial distinctions drawn by individual 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 133 

observers, each of whom regards the direction in 
which his body lines extend as being the Time 
dimension. According to that theory, our state- 
ment that we are regarding the vertical dimension 
of the paper as Space, and the horizontal dimension 
as Time, is simply acquiescence in the opinion of 
the owner of the cerebrum shown in Fig. 5, and it 
commits us to agreement with his complementary 
view of his own Time endurance as something 
extending straight along the Time dimension. But 
BB' represents one of the many slanting extensions 
regarded as possible by those who maintain that 
the Time direction is the same for everybody, and 
that it has nothing to do with the direction of any 
particular observer's body-lines. 

The " present moment " in Time is indicated in 
each case by the dotted prolongation of the line 
representing the instantaneous photograph CD 
(or CD'). 

We have now accomplished the first of our two 
half-steps, and it will be seen that the result is to 
leave us with a very incomplete representation of 
the state of affairs which we started to analyze — 
the state exhibited in Fig. 5. The elements in that 
diagram were considered as apparently moving up 
and down in the Space dimension, such motion 
being apparent both to the owner of the pictured 
cerebrum and to ourselves. The diagram was to 
be regarded as a working model, exhibiting its 
states in succession. But there is no evidence of 
any appearance of motion to any observer in Figs. 
6 (a) and 6 (b). The lines which show the elements 
of Fig. 5 in their Time extension — the bands AA' 
or BB'^ — are considered as being stationary in all 
dimensions. (For that reason we have had to remove 
the arrow-heads from the little dimension-indicator.) 



134 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

And the cerebral states represented by the various 
cross-sections of those bands are not being presented 
to any observer in succession. Either they are all 
being presented together, or else one only is being 
presented — the state at the "present" instant, CD 
(or CD 1 ). 

The second of our two half-steps consists in the 
reintroduction of these missing phenomena of 
motion. We do this in the obvious and, indeed, 
only possible way — the way to which the reader is 
now accustomed. We simply add an arrow-head 
to the T in the dimension-indicator, in order to 
show that CD (or CD') is — as we had all along 
suspected — the only field of presentation in the 
diagram, and that this field is travelling along the 
Time dimension in the direction indicated by that 
arrow. We do this in Figs. 7 (a) and 7 (b). 

And we do one thing more. We place the 
numeral 1 after the T in the dimension-indicator. 
The reason for this will be apparent in a moment. 

The first stage of our analysis is now complete, 
and it brings us to a merely revised edition of our 
starting-point. Our diagram is again a working 
model, and it no longer contradicts the statements 
we made regarding Fig. 5. The line CD (or CD') 
is still, as we had originally stated, a field of presen- 
tation. Events are being presented in succession 
within that field. And the intersection points 
between that travelling field and the wavy lines 
are moving up and down within the field, giving 
the appearance of moving elements. 

As the field of presentation moves over the 
extended substratum, some of the phenomena pre- 
sented in the field will appear as moving in relation 
to other phenomena in the field. For attention, 
focussed upon the apparently moving phenomenon, 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 



135 



has a fringe which covers enough of the immedi- 
ately adjacent, comparatively non-moving phe- 
nomena to enable the difference to be perceived. 

There is no evidence here, of course, that such 
movements of attention are anything more than 



(a) 



-*T.i 




(b) 



B 



re' 



->T.l 



Fig. 7. 



conditioned, non-voluntary activities in the field of 
a non-intervening observer. 

The result of this first stage leaves us, however, 
still dissatisfied. Analyzing what was involved in 
our premises, we have arrived at conclusions which, 
so far as they go, are logically unescapable. The 
trouble is that they do not go far enough. 



136 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

To begin with, we find ourselves confronted with 
a new object for consideration : to wit, a Time- 
travelling field of presentation. 

Now, we cannot separate that travelling field of 
presentation from an observer to whom its contents 
are being presented — contents provided by the 
cerebral elements in the substratum travelled over. 
Hence, CD (or CD') must be regarded as the 
place where this observer (a Time-travelling 
observer) intersects with AA ; (or BB'). The field 
in question is, of course, our original field, and 
the observer thereof is our original, conscious 
observer. And this observer must be a definite 
entity; for no mere abstraction can travel in, so to 
say, its own unsupported right. 

It is to be noted, however, that there is nothing 
here which need alarm the materialist. It is 
abundantly clear that, when this observer, with his 
field, reaches the terminus of the cerebral sub- 
stratum, he will find that the observable phenomena 
have come to an end. Nor is there anything to 
show that he has the smallest capacity for inter- 
ference with the purely mechanical sequence of 
the cerebral states which he observes. 

We are bound to regard this observer as three- 
dimensional. And, to avoid any possible confusion, 
we had better se.t forth exactly what that statement 
implies. 

A Time dimension, for any observer, is a 
dimension in which all the events which he ex- 
periences appear to him to follow one another in 
a definite sequence — a dimension in which he (or 
his attention) does not move backwards so as to 
upset that order of successive experience. Those 
dimensions in which his attention can move to and 
fro appear to him, therefore, to be at right angles 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 137 

to that Time dimension. Whatever dimension, 
then, in our diagrams, actually determines, for 
the observer moving therein, that order of suc- 
cessive experience, is that observer's true Time 
dimension. 

To the observer we are here considering, the 
dimension which thus determines the order of his 
successive experiences is the dimension moved over 
by the field. The to-and-fro movements of his 
attention are, therefore, confined to the three spacial 
dimensions at right angles to that Time. So he is 
an entity whose capacity for such observation is 
three-dimensional. And that is what we mean by 
calling him a three-dimensional observer. 

Whether he has, or has not, in other capacities, 
extensions in other dimensions is immaterial to the 
arguments in this chapter. As an observer he is 
three-dimensional . 

Now, our first stage, again, has left us with a 
new Time problem to consider. For the observing 
entity, with its field CD (or CD'), is travelling 
neither so slowly as to be stationary, nor so rapidly 
as to be in all places at once ; and every condition 
between those two extremes must be describable 
in terms of Time taken per distance traversed. 
But the distance traversed is along our first-con- 
sidered time dimension; so the time which is 
taken must be a Time which is not shown anywhere 
in the diagram. Just as our first-considered Time 
is not indicated anywhere in Fig. 5. Hence we 
mark the T in Figs. 7 (a) and 7 (b) as Ti, to show 
that it is not the ultimate Time which times the 
movements, real or apparent, in those diagrams. 
That ultimate Time we may call Time 2. 



# 



138 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

In order to simplify our next diagrams, we shall 
now draw the bands AA' or BB' (it will not here 
matter which) as they would appear to an eye set 
level with the page and looking up that page from 
bottom to top. Seen thus, either band would appear 
as a single line; and this line is represented by 
GH in Fig. 8. The field CD (or C'D'}~the place 
where our travelling observing entity intersects — 
is represented by the travelling point O. And 
each fixed point between G and H represents a 
single cerebral state, a spacial cross-section of 
either of the bands AA' or BB'. 



> T.I 

Fig. 8. 

The Space dimension shown in Figs. 7 (a) and 
7 (b) is here sticking out at right angles to the 
page. We shall have no room in the picture for 
other Space dimensions; but we may remember 
that they are supposed to be intersecting the 
diagram. 

The view of affairs represented in Fig. 8 may 
be regarded as the first "term" of our series. 
Time is exhibited and analyzed therein, and it is 
shown that it is not ultimate Time. 

Our business is now to exhibit the Time taken 
by the movement of O from left to right of Fig 8 
in exactly the same fashion as we exhibited the 
Time taken over the Space movements of the 
elements in Fig. 5. 

The new dimension of Time will have to be at 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 139 

right angles to GH, just as our original dimension 
of Time had to be made at right angles to CD in 
Fig- 5- We shall, as already said, call this new 
dimension Time 2. In relation to this Time 2, 
Time 1 is, theoretically, akin to any of the three 
"ordinary" dimensions of Space. Instead of a 
four-dimensional world in which the fourth dimen- 
sion is Time, we have now a five-dimensional world 
in which the fifth dimension plays that insecure role. 

In this Time 2 all the entities in GH, including 
the travelling entity at O, have endurance. That 
is to say, they remain in existence while you watch 
O travelling. These endurances will have to be 
shown as extensions in the Time 2 dimension. 

We begin, as before, by taking our instantaneous 
photograph of our working model. This photo- 
graph is taken at what is, to us, the "present 
moment" of ultimate Time,— the Time which times 
the movement of O along GH, — that is to say, 
Time 2. It represents the condition of Fig. 8 at 
that "present moment." We exhibit this photo- 
graph as GH in Fig. 9, the line pp' indicating the 
" present moment " in question. 

Next, we have to show the "past" and "future" 
(in this Time 2 dimension) conditions of the fixed 
cerebral states represented by the fixed points in 
GH as, respectively, below and above their 
"present" condition in GH. Since these states 
do not change their position either in Space or in 
Time 1, their endurances in Time 2 must be shown 
as extensions straight up Time 2. They thus 
become, in Fig. 9, vertical lines extending up and 
down the page with no limit either way that we 
are, as yet, able to assign. But we need treat only 
a few selected points in this fashion. 

We have now another definite entity to consider 



140 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 



— the three-dimensional observing entity which 
intersects at the three-dimensional field O. In the 
"present" condition of Fig. 8 (GH in Fig. 9) 
the point of this intersection is at the middle of the 
line. Since, however, this point is, in Fig, 8, 
travelling along Time 1, its positions in the "past" 
conditions of that diagram must be shown more 



T.2. 



T.l 



J. o 



H" 



■/>' 



H' 



T.l 



Fig. 9. 

towards the G'G" side of Fig. 9, and its positions 
in the "future" conditions must be shown more 
towards the H'H" side. Linking up these various 
points of intersection, we get a diagonal line like 
O'O". This line will represent the endurance 
(temporal extension) of the definite intersecting 
entity. 

Here we have to ask ourselves again the same 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 141 

question that we asked in stage 1. We have shown 
the "past" and "future" states of all the definite 
entities in our working model (Fig. 8) — including 
the intersecting entity at O — as extensions of those 
entities, occupying fixed positions in the 'past" 
and "future" parts of the Time 2 dimension. But 
have we treated our original three-dimensional field 
of presentation in that fashion? Our answer here 
is bound to be the same as before, and for the same 
reason. Though everything else in our Time maps 
were fixed, this field of presentation O would have 
to be moving. Otherwise the diagrams would not 
be working models, and would not represent that 
working model state of affairs which we set Out to 
analyze. The cerebral states would not be being 
presented to any observer in succession. Either 
they would all be being presented together, or else 
one only — the state at the fixed O — would fall 
within that category. This three-dimensional field 
of presentation O must, therefore, always be re- 
garded as travelling in such a fashion as to come 
upon the cerebral states one after another. 

But before we consider further the nature of this 
motion, let us see whether we cannot ascertain a 
little more about the character of our observing 
entity O'O". 

O has represented, from the outset, the three- 
dimensional field where conscious observation is 
taking place. It is clear, then, that, at the point 
O in our definite, enduring entity O'O", that entity 
is a conscious observer — our original, three-dimen- 
sional, conscious observer. What is it elsewhere? 
We might say, "an unconscious observer," but 
that is a dubious expression best avoided. A 
better name is unconscious " reagent" which would 
mean here, simply, an entity which reacts to, or is 



142 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

modified in accordance with, the cerebral states (the 
vertical lines of Fig. 9) which it intersects. This 
name does not suggest observation in any sense 
beyond that in which an instrument observes. How 
such a " reagent " can become conscious at the field 
of presentation O is a matter which we shall be 
able to understand when we have completed the 
analysis. For the moment all that we know is that 
the reagent must be considered, on account of our 
original definition of O, as conscious at that point. 

Now, O has to be regarded as travelling, and as 
travelling in Time 1. Since, while so doing, it must 
remain in O'O", it must be considered as travelling 
up that diagonal; that is to say, as travelling up 
Time 2. Which means that, for our ultimate 
observer to observe the contents of the instants of 
Time 1 in succession it is necessary that he shall 
observe the contents of the instants of Time 2 in 
succession. He must have a field of presentation 
travelling up whatever is ultimate Time — in this 
case, Time 2. 

By analogy with stage 1 we should expect that 
the whole of GH in Fig. 9 (the instantaneous photo- 
graph of Fig. 8 at a moment of Time 2 which 
appears to us as "present") would turn out to be 
this field of presentation travelling up Time 2 — a 
field the existence of which could not become 
evident until Fig. 8' had been expanded in Time 2. 
Just as, in stage 1, the existence of a Time- 
travelling field CD (or CD') within the apparently 
active Fig. 5 could not become evident until Fig. 5 
had been expanded in Time 1. 

It will be remembered, however, that the first 
term of a series may differ in some respects from 
all the remainder. Consequently it might be wiser 
not to trust to analogy here, but to continue to 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 143 

establish the characteristics of our second term by 
direct analysis of what is involved in the fact of 
succession in experience. 

O, then, is travelling up CO". But the only 
thing which marks off O as a definite foint in O'O" 
is the line GH. This line, therefore, must be 
travelling up Time 2. GH, however, represents 
the condition of Fig. 8 at what we are considering 
to be the "present moment" in Time 2. Hence 
this " present moment " in Time 2 is travelling up 
Time 2. 

It is advisable to remember here that, just as 
Time 2 is true Time in this stage, so is the Time 2 
travelling "present moment" the true travelling 
"present moment." Our old, Time 1, travelling 
"present moment" has become merely an inter- 
section point between the true travelling "present 
moment" in Time 2 and a fixed diagonal in the 
diagram. It does not exist in its own right, but is 
determined by the Time 2 " present moment." The 
point O is determined by ff 1 . To put it in scien- 
tific language, our Times are arranged in series, 
not in parallel. 

Now, the points in O'O" are being consciously 
and successively observed from O' to O" by what- 
ever is the ultimate observer. And we have just 
seen that the only thing which determines the order 
of succession in which these points are being 
observed is the travelling " present moment " in 
Time 2. So the ultimate observer of the changing 
point in O'O" is an observer for whom Time 2 
plays the part of the real and only Time. It does 
not matter what he thinks about Time, or where 
he supposes it to extend. Time 2 is the Time which 
determines the sequence of his experiences. And 
Time 1 is at right angles to what is, for him, the 



144 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

real and only determinative Time. Time i is, 
therefore, in relation to him, akin to a dimension 
of "ordinary" Space. In other words, just as, in 
stage i, the ultimate conscious observer exhibited 
himself as a three-dimensional being in a three- 
dimensional world, so, in the more elaborate view 
afforded by Stage 2, the ultimate conscious observer 
exhibits himself as the four-dimensional observer in 
the four-dimensional world marked off by pp' . This 
four-dimensional observer must have a four-dimen- 
sional field of presentation lying in, and travelling 
with, pp' . 

But the discovery of new elements in our grow- 
ing diagram does not entitle us to repudiate any 
previous supposition upon which that diagram has 
been erected. The argument for the existence of 
this field of presentation number 2 is based upon 
the hypothesis that there is a point O travelling in 
O'O". And we may not now deny that O'O" is, 
at O, a conscious, three-dimensional observer. For 
it is only because we acknowledge, in stage 1, the 
presence of such a conscious, three-dimensional 
observer at that point in GH that we were enabled, 
later, to insert the line O'O" in the diagram. 
And so it goes from the beginning of the analysis. 
Nothing that has been previously ascertained and 
identified may be ignored later on. All that we 
may do is to discover new elements as our diagram 
grows more elaborate. 

Hence the three-dimensional field of presentation 
of our stage 1 observer turns out to be an element 
in the four-dimensional field of our stage 2 observer. 
And the discovery that there is a stage 2 four- 
dimensional observer — observer 2, who is the ulti- 
mate conscious observer we are seeking — means 
that our " reagent " is, at its conscious three-dimen- 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 145 

sional section O, an element in the field of 
observer 2. 

Then, again, observer i's attention (which is 
merely a name for concentrated observation, 
whether externally determined or otherwise) was 
regarded as focussed upon some particular phe- 
nomenon in field 1. The attention of our ultimate 
observer must also be regarded as focussed about 
that same phenomenon. But the focus of observer 
i, who is three-dimensional, must be itself three- 
dimensional. And the focus of observer 2 must, 
similarly, be four-dimensional. Hence the three- 
dimensional focus of observer 1 must be surrounded 
by the four-dimensional focus of observer 2. 

How far, now, are we to say that field 2 extends 
along pp'f From G to H, replies analogy. But 
we are not trusting to analogy; and so I must ask 
the reader to follow me to the same conclusion by 
a rather longer route. 

A field of presentation is delimited by certain 
cerebral states of observable character placed at 
what is to the observer at right angles to Time. 
In GH there is, we know, one such observable 
state — the state at O. But for GH to be a field of 
presentation from end to end, all the other cerebral 
states therein should be of an observable character. 

Quite so. And that is precisely what they are. 
We extended them originally in Figs. 6 (a) and 

6 (b) as " past " and " future' ' states of the cerebrum 
of Fig. 5 — states which were all of an observable 
character. 

Yes, but did not that imply that they were observ- 
able only to the conscious observer whose focus of 
attention was following field 1 in Figs. 7 (a) and 

7 (b), and who, therefore, would experience those 
cerebral states one after another? 



10 



146 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

Again, quite so ; but our now elaborated view of 
those diagrams has shown us that it was really 
observer 2 who was the ultimate conscious observer 
of the successive cerebral states in the bands 
AA' or BB', and whose focus, surrounding the 
focus of observer 1, was following field 1. So 
observer 2, following in this way the focus of 
observer 1, has already consciously observed the 
cerebral states (vertical lines) to the left of O in 
Fig. 9, and is going to observe similarly those to 
the right. All those states must therefore be, to 
him, of an observable character. And they lie in 
what is to him at right angles to Time. Hence, 
GH, from end to end, lies within the four-dimen- 
sional field of presentation. That its observer's 
attention happens to be following, for some reason, 
one particular point in that field — a point in O — 
does not affect the matter : a field of presenta- 
tion is not limited to the focus of attention (vide 
Part I.). 

Yes, but was not the cross-section of the diagonal 
reagent in the substratum of field 2 an intermediary 
observer in whose absence that substratum would 
not have been consciously observed by observer 2? 

No, our ultimate observer is a four-dimensional 
observer with a four-dimensional focus of attention 
covering slightly four-dimensional bits of the sub- 
stratum. But observer 1 is only a three-dimensional 
observer, reacting only to three-dimensional aspects. 
In his observational capacity he is not, to observer 2, 
a concrete entity at all. He is akin to a plane 
without thickness in a world of solids — observable 
only on condition that the solids are being observed. 
And his observations (modifications in accordance 
with the local three-dimensional character of the 
substratum) could not have been even observable 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 147 

to observer 2 except as part and parcel of dimen- 
sionally larger areas observed. 

So GH is, like CD (or CD') in Figs. 7 (a) or 
7 (£), a field of presentation. And, like those 
stage 1 fields, it stretches, athwart the Time 
dimension, from edge to edge of the cerebral sub- 
stratum. Since this characteristic holds good in 
two terms of the series, we may regard it as 
a repetitive relation which will appear in every 
term. 

We conclude stage 2, then, by fitting an arrow- 
head to Time 2 in the dimension-indicator of 
Fig. 9, in order to show that GH is a field of 
presentation moving up Time 2. The motion 
of field 1 along Time 1 is now recovered. For, as 
GH moves up the diagram, the point O, where GH 
intersects with O'O", moves along GH towards H, 
thus coming upon the cerebral states one after 
another in succession from left to right. 

Our diagram — which represents the second term 
of the series — is once again a working model. And 
it does not contradict the information previously 
provided by Fig. 8. In that figure, O was a point 
of intersection travelling along GH. Our more 
elaborate diagram confirms that statement, and 
merely supplies the additional information that the 
travelling of the intersection point is due to the 
Time-2-travelling of the GH which is intersected; 
that GH proving to be a field of presentation con- 
cealed in the over-compressed view afforded by 
Fig. 8. We still have at O our original three- 
dimensional observer moving along Time 1, but he 
proves to be merely a section — a conscious section — 
of his own temporal extension above and below in 
the form of the diagonal reagent. 

It is to be noted that our travelling field 2, GH, 



i 4 8 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

must be, in its turn, a line where a definite entity, 
observer 2, intersects with the plane figure 
G'G'H'HV Also that, since the area around O — 
where this observer 2 is consciously observing— 
travels from end to end of GH, that observer must, 
everywhere throughout GH, be capable of conscious 
observation. Also that ultimate Time — the Time 
which times the movement of GH up the plane, and 
of O along GH — is not Time 2, but Time 3. 



We may, conveniently, carry the analysis one stage 
further; but we need not trouble to repeat the 
arguments. 

We shall discover, of course, that the Time and 
the field and the observer which, in stage 2, we con- 
sidered as being ultimate, were not ultimate at all; 
and we shall come upon a larger-dimensioned lot of 
ultimates which, in their turn, will only retain that 
status until the next stage is reached. And so on 
to infinity. 

In Fig. 10 we exhibit three dimensions of Time as 
the three dimensions of a solid figure seen in per- 
spective. We have to draw imaginary boundaries to 
this figure in order to make the perspective clear; 
but these edges have, properly, no position that we 
can, as yet, indicate, except where they mark off the 
beginning and the end of the extension of the cerebral 
substratum in Time 1. The block has sides, but, as 
yet, no other boundaries. 

Time 3 is shown as the vertical dimension of the 
block. In relation to this Time the dimensions we 
call Time 1, and Time 2, are akin to dimensions of 
Space. 

The middle horizontal plane-section of this block- 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 



149 



figure, the plane G'G ff H"H', is our instantaneous 
photograph of Fig. 9, shown in perspective. The 
endurances, in the new dimension of Time, of the 
cerebral states represented by the Time 2 extended 
lines in Fig. 9 should be shown by extending these 
lines in the Time 3 dimension so that they form vertical 
planes arranged like pieces of toast in a rack. But to 




Fig. 10. 



fill these in would overcrowd the diagram. Our first 
reagent, O'O", will endure (extend) in Time 3 as a 
plane dividing the block diagonally; that is to say, 
the plane ABCD. 

In the "present" condition of Fig. 9 (shown in 
the middle of the block), the field of presentation GH 
— which, be it remembered, must be marked out by 
the intersection of some definite observing entity with 
the plane of the figure — is at the middle of the plane. 
In the " past " condition of Fig. 9 (the plane at the 



150 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

bottom of the block) this field — this line of intersection 
— is at DE. In the " future " condition of Fig. q (at 
the top of the block) this field is at FB. The definite 
intersecting entity, reagent number 2, lies, therefore, 
along the sloping plane DFBE, which plane represents 
its endurance. 

The intersection of this plane with the plane ABCD 
is the line DB. The new travelling field of presenta- 
tion (field 3) is the plane G'G"H"H'. As this field 3 
plane travels up the block, its line of intersection with 
the sloping plane DFBE (the line GH) moves over the 
travelling field 3 plane towards G"H" . That is to 
say, field 2 moves along Time 2. The point O (where 
the three planes ABCD, DFBE, and G'G"H"H' 
intersect) moves, meanwhile, along the travelling line 
GH towards H. That is to say, field 1 moves along 
Time 1.* 

"W *7T Tf* "IT 

The analysis will continue, evidently, in the same 
fashion to infinity. There we shall have a single 
multidimensional field of presentation in absolute 
motion, travelling over a fixed substratum of objec- 
tive elements extended in all the dimensions of 
Time. The motion of this ultimate field causes 
the motion of an infinite number of places of inter- 
section between that field and the fixed elements, 
these places of intersection constituting fewer- 
dimensional fields of presentation. At infinity, 

* It will be remembered that the figure is a diagrammatic 
representation of serial relations, and that one cannot, in 
considering movements within the block, overlook the system 
on which that block has been constructed. One cannot, for 
example, consider the point O as moving up DB, without, 
at the same time, recognizing the conditions of that move- 
ment — viz., that field 3 is travelling in Time 3, and field 2 
in Time 2. 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 151 

again, we shall have a Time which serves to time 
all movements of or in the various fields of presen- 
tation. This time will be "Absolute Time" with 
an absolute past, present, and future. The present 
moment of this absolute Time must contain all the 
moments, "past/' "present," and "future," of all 
the subordinate dimensions of Time. 

It will be noticed that we can never show the 
path which O really follows. In Fig. 9 this path 
appears as CO", but in Fig. 10 it appears as DB. 
We have to show it differently with each intro- 
duction of another dimension of Time. But it will 
be seen that, to the observer of each specific moving 
field in the ultimate, completed diagram, O's path 
will appear to lie within his field. (For example, 
to the observer of the field GH in Fig. 10, O 
appears as moving from G to H.) 

The nature of the series is now beginning to 
become apparent. It is akin to the " Chinese 
boxes" type — the type where every term is con- 
tained in a similar but larger (in this case dimen- 
sionally larger) term. 

Its laws may easily be ascertained. As the first 
we have — 

1. Every Time-travelling field of presentation 
is contained within a field one dimension larger, 
travelling in another dimension of Time, the larger 
field covering events which are "past" and 
"future" as well as "present" to the smaller 
field. 

The second law brings in the serial observer. 
(This entity is not, of course, the same thing as a 
series of independently existing observers.) 

We have seen that the contents of the instants 
of Time 1 can only be presented to the ultimate 
observer in succession on condition that the contents 



152 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

of the instants of Time 2 are being likewise suc- 
cessively presented, and so with the contents of 
the instants of all the other Times in the series. 
This ultimate observer is, therefore, the observer 
of the field of presentation travelling up the dimen- 
sion of Time at the infinity end of the series. As 
the observer of that field, he is the observer of all 
the lesser and contained travelling fields. 

Again, O has been, from the beginning of the 
analysis, the place where conscious observation is 
taking place. So, at whatever stage we may halt, 
our ultimate observer at that stage is observing 
consciously at O. In Fig. 9, for example, observer 
2, GH (coinciding with the field GH) is, like 
observer 1, consciously observing at O. But the 
interesting thing is that no observer possesses this 
power of conscious observation in his own right; 
he owes it entirely to the conscious observer next 
above him in the series. 

For the travelling conscious observer GH is the 
only thing which, by its intersection with the reagent 
O'O", distinguishes in O'O" the place O wherein 
that reagent is capable of conscious observation. 
Omit GH, and there is no O. Similarly, when we 
pass to Fig. 10, we see that the travelling field 3, 
G'G'H'H' coinciding with conscious observer 3, 
is the only thing which, by its intersection with 
reagent 2, DFBE, distinguishes in DFBE a line 
GH wherein that reagent is capable of consciously 
observing, as at O. Omit G'G"H"H' from the 
diagram, and GH, containing O, vanishes. And 
so it goes on throughout the series, to infinity. In 
short, leave out the higher conscious and successive 
observer, and the lower observer ceases to exist as 
either conscious or successive, though there still 
remains an unnecessary and unjustified diagonal 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH' TIME 153 

reagent, unconscious, and reacting to everything at 
once. 

Therefore, just as the phenomena presented for 
observation are all ultimately referable to the set 
of cerebral states with which we started at the 
"hither" end of the series, so all conscious obser- 
vation, like all successive observation, is ultimately 
referable to the observer at the "far" end of the 
series; that is, to the observer at infinity. 

("Observer at infinity " does not mean an observer 
infinitely remote, in either Time or Space. " In- 
finity" here refers merely to the number of terms 
in the series. The observer in question is merely 
your ordinary everyday self, " here " and " now.") 

So for our second law we have — 

2. The serialism of the fields of presentation 
involves the existence of a serial observer. In this 
respect every time-travelling field is the field 
apparent to a similarly travelling and similarly 
dimensioned conscious observer. Observation by 
any such observer is observation by all the conscious 
observers pertaining to the dimensionally larger 
fields, and is, ultimately , observation by a conscious 
observer at infinity. 

Hence, since "attention" is only a name for 
concentrated conscious observation, the attention of 
the observer pertaining to any field must be refer- 
able to the attentions of the observers pertaining 
to the dimensionally larger fields, and so to the 
observer at infinity. But the focus of attention (the 
area covered by observation of a given degree of 
concentration) must have, in each case, the same 
number of dimensions as have the observer and his 
field. In field 1 it is three-dimensional; in field 2 
it is four-dimensional; and so on. 

Consequently we have, as our third law— 



154 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

3. The focus of attention in any field has the 
same number of dimensions as has that field, and 
is a dimensional centre of the focii of attention in 
all the higher fields, up to and including attention 
in the field at infinity. 

And now let us see whether there is anything to 
be made of it all. 



CHAPTER XXII 

Our analysis has ascertained the nature of the 
temporal machinery which is bound to exist if we 
observe events in succession. The question which 
has now to be answered is whether an inspection of 
that machinery will enable us to account for any- 
thing else. And the reply is in the affirmative. 

Oddly enough, the first thing which emerges is 
something which I did not in the smallest degree 
anticipate. From the outset it was obvious that 
the analysis would exhibit (i) a series of fields of 
presentation, each travelling within the next higher 
field; (2) a series of fixed diagonals, one intersect- 
ing another; and {3) a serial observer. But I had 
not realized that the fixed diagonals would repre- 
sent the endurances of observing elements in that 
serial observer, and that each of such elements 
would be unconscious save at the point where it 
was intersected by the field of the next higher 
conscious observer. The discovery of these strictly 
localized travelling areas of conscious observation 
was of considerable importance. For it became 
evident at once that, side by side with the analysis 
of the machinery of succession, there was proceed- 
ing, quite unexpectedly, a detailed disclosure of 
the machinery of consciousness. 

How would you define a conscious observer? 
Define him, that is to say, in such a fashion as to 
distinguish him from an unconscious observer like 
a camera? You would begin, I imagine, by enun- 
ciating the truism that he is one who is aware of 
his acts of observation. And you would then realize 

155 



156 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

that this is equivalent to saying that he consciously 
observes those acts of observation. 

It is immediately clear to you that you will reach 
no explanation of consciousness by that route; but 
it is equally clear that you have been led to make 
a statement which is absolutely true and which you 
cannot possibly retract. But consider what that 
statement signifies. Consciously observing the 
primary act of observation is itself a secondary 
act of conscious observation, and therefore, accord- 
ing to the initial statement, it must be consciously 
observed by a tertiary act— and so on to infinity. 
You are embarked upon the description of a serial 
process which has no end to it. And the only way 
of escape is to go back to the beginning and . . . 
deny that our friend is aware of his acts of obser- 
vation. Hence, though the explanation of con- 
sciousness eludes you, it becomes clear that, if our 
observer is to be conscious at all, he must be a 
serial observer, every term in which is consciously 
observing the acts of observation of the "lower" 
term. 

It is difficult to see how such a serial observer 
can exist anywhere in the three dimensions of Space 
alone, but the analysis in our last chapter has shown 
that he can — and does — exist very nicely in the 
multitudinous dimensions of Time. Reagent i, 
consciously reacting to the cerebral substratum at 
O, is, there, a presentation in the travelling field of 
observer 2 — is a sectional feature which, in its state of 
reaction, is being consciously observed. Similarly, 
reagent 2 is, at GH (wherein it is consciously 
observing at O), a presentation in the travelling 
field of observer 3 (vide Fig. 10). And so on to 
infinity. 

It will be noticed that, according to this analysis, 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 157 

a man can be conscious without being conscious of 
himself. In fact, there is, strictly speaking, no 
such thing as self-consciousness at all. If you 
consider any observer in the series, you will per- 
ceive that the observer whose reactions he observes 
is always an observer in a " lower " term. The self 
observed is a "lower" self. The existence of a 
true self, or possibly of a " higher " self, might be 
inferred as an outcome of the discovery that certain 
phenomena in the substratum were not public 
property; but such knowledge would be of an 
acquired character, and it would not be self- 
observation. 

But let us see if the analysis has yielded anything 
else. 

Well, there is . . . but this is a lapse into pure 
psychology, and must be regarded as such. Psycho- 
logists are always seeking for an explanation of 
how it is that we are aware of the passage of Time — 
aware, that is, not merely of motion or of change, 
but of the fact that motion and change involve Time 
transit. That Time should be a length travelled 
over is, all said and done, a rather elaborate con- 
ception; yet that this is the way we do habitually 
think of Time is agreed to by everyone, both 
educated and — which is much more curious — un- 
educated. The child instantly understands its 
nurse's lumbering attempts at explanation. It 
scarcely needs to be told that "yesterday" has 
"passed by" and that "to-morrow" is "coming." 
How does it, how did we, arrive at this remarkable 
piece of knowledge? 

A theory often hazarded is that attention is never 
really confined to a mathematical instant. It covers 
a slightly larger period. That is to say, it has a 
small extension in the Time dimension. 



158 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

Now, this small extension is actually given us 
by Law 3 of the series. The law asserts that the 
focus of attention in field 1 is the dimensional 
centre of the focii of attention in all the higher 
fields: That means that the focus in field 1 is 
surrounded by a fringe which, however narrow it 
may be, is being subjected to attention by observer 
2. That means, again, that observer 2, whose 
attention is surrounding and following observer i's 
attention in field 1, must perceive observer i's 
apparent movement in relation to those stationary 
(cerebral) presentations in field 2 which are covered 
by his own dimensionally larger focus. The process 
is precisely similar to that by which observer 1 
perceives objects travelling across his own three- 
dimensional field. Hence observer 2 (and so the 
observer at infinity) not only observes what 
observer 1 is observing, but perceives that indi- 
vidual as travelling from "past" to '"future" in 
Time 1. 

(Philosophers will note that "succession in ex- 
perience " is thus bound to involve the " experience 
of succession.") 

In connection with this overlapping of the focus 
of observer 1 by that of observer 2, there is another 
point which may possess some measure of signifi- 
cance. Any focus of attention travelling along 
Time 1 will come upon irregularities in the sub- 
stratum — irregularities which we represented by the 
waviness of the substratum lines in Figs. 7 (a) and 
7 (b). In their relation to field 1 and its focus, 
these irregularities, whether observed or not, are 
the movements of physical elements in three- 
dimensional Space. But the slightly wider, over- 
lapping focus of observer 2 may quite well cover 
a Time 1 length containing a considerable number 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 159 

of these irregularities, which would thus be pre- 
sented as Time 1 pattern in the part of the sub- 
stratum covered by that focus. This means that 
observer 2, following field 1 with his attention, 
should be capable of directly perceiving in the 
objective universe characteristics beyond those 
which present themselves as the spacial groupings 
and spacial movements of enduring particles. 
Physical frequency would be presented as pattern — 
a frequency would appear as something concrete. 
This may ultimately prove to have some formal 
connection with the observer's interpretations of 
frequency as sensation. But we should, probably, 
be exhibiting the matter in its most significant 
aspect if we said that what the ultimate observer 
should thus be able to observe directly is a highly 
important and very remarkable characteristic known 
to physical science as " Action." But of this more 
anon. 

Can we gather anything else? 

Yes, we have, at last, the explanation of our 
dream "effect." 

Law 3 asserts that the focus of attention in any 
lower field is surrounded by the focii of attention 
in all higher fields. (Which is simply a way of 
saying that it is the observer at infinity who is, 
ultimately, attending to the phenomena in that 
lower field.) Thus, in waking moments, the atten- 
tion of observer 2 is not ranging to and fro over 
the limits of field 2, but is following the focus of 
observer 1 in field 1 moving laterally across field 2. 
But what if there is no focus of attention in field 1 ? 
What if field 1 becomes, as in deep sleep, a blank, 
owing to the passivity of the cerebrum? Such a 
situation is exhibited in Fig. 11. 

The gap running up the middle of the diagram 



r6o 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 



indicates the absence of all such cerebral states as 
are associated with the production of psychical 
phenomena. So, at the moment (in absolute Time) 
when field 2, GH, moving up Time 2, is in the 
position shown, there is nothing in field 1 (the inter- 
section point of GH and O'O") for observer 1 to 






/ 



/ 



^ 



/ 



/ 


E 

1 


1 


/ 


/ 






B 







T-l 



■ T.I 



Fig. 11. 

attend to. The focus of attention of observer 2 
has thus become the first term of the series of con- 
centric focii : it has no smaller-dimensioned focus 
to follow. And so there is nothing to restrain it 
from moving — at right angles to its Time dimension 
— in all the dimensions of its field of presentation 
GH. In other words, when the observer at infinity 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 161 

finds nothing to attend to in field i, his attention 
will wander elsewhere. That such wanderings of 
attention will account for all the commonly recog- 
nized phenomena of dreams will be shown in the 
next chapter. All that we need point out here is 
that, in those wanderings, attention will come upon 
cerebral correlates of sensory phenomena, memory 
phenomena, and trains of associative thinking which 
may be either in the "past" (as at a) or in the 
"future" (as at b) of Time i. When waking, 
attention, following that field i point where the 
travelling GH intersects with O'O", has already 
come upon the AA' cerebral state (at a!\ and is 
going to encounter the BB' cerebral state (at b'). 

Anything else ? 

Yes; the results of the analysis agree admirably 
with all that was discovered during the course of 
the "waking experiments." 

That analysis has sharply distinguished presen- 
tation, referable to the original cerebral states, from 
observation (which includes attention), referable to 
the observer at infinity. So it is not surprising that 
it has brought to light no law which compels the 
ultimate observer to direct his attention to any par- 
ticular phenomenon in any particular field. That 
such attention is, as a matter of plain fact, habitually 
directed during waking moments to phenomena in 
field i is obvious enough ; but theory leaves us with 
habit as the only compulsion in the matter. And 
practice bears this out. In the waking experiments, 
as the reader will remember, attention, so long as 
it was allowed to follow an easy, swift train of 
associated images, came upon nothing but images 
of the past. The reason now seems fairly clear. 
That the train of associated images came into 
observation swiftly and easily showed that the 



162 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

attention of the ultimate observer was travelling 
according to habit. But habit keeps it in field I, 
and in that field all images relate to the past. 
Nevertheless, the habit was no law. It could be 
overcome. By determinedly refusing to attend to 
these readily proffered images, attention in field I 
could be completely discontinued. And, in the rare 
instants when this was successfully effected, atten- 
tion in field 2 was free, as in dreams, to slip away 
along associational tracks extending elsewhere than 
in the Time 1 "present moment." 

Confining ourselves, in this chapter, to the 
simplest things deducible from the analysis, we 
have one more point to note. 

It is abundantly clear that our serial observer is 
going to have considerable difficulty in disengaging 
himself from the trammels of conscious existence. 
In fact, one cannot see how'he is going to manage 
it at all. 

The substratum which provides the ultimate con- 
tents of his serial field of presentation is merely 
the extension (endurance) in many dimensions of 
Time, of the primary extension in Time 1. That 
Time 1 extension has a beginning and an end, and 
these two boundaries are taken into account and 
appear everywhere in the extensions in the other 
dimensions of Time. But the fields which travel 
over the extensions in the second and " higher " 
dimensions of Time do not, in any term, move 
from or towards those two boundaries ; they travel 
straight up between them. The only field which 
runs out of the multidimensional figure is field 1. 
Death— that is to say, the arrival of a travelling 
field at a boundary — is, thus, not a serial element. 
It is, like sleep-gaps and the various Time irregu- 
larities in the substratum, one of those solely first- 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 163 

term characteristics, which — as we saw earlier — 
must exist in any series which has a beginning. 

There may be, of course, arbitrary terminations 
to the extensions of the substratum in the other 
dimensions of Time, — some deity may cut them 
off, — but the analysis indicates that, failing such 
interference, the substratum persists to infinity in all 
Time dimensions save the first. For it does not 
exhibit in those other dimensions the characteristics 
which, in Time 1, indicate a possible splitting apart 
of the Time-extended lines at a place farther on 
in the stretch. 

So observer 1 seems to be the only observer 
who dies. 



The reader will note, I hope, that the foregoing 
tenets of Serialism have not been deduced from the 
empirical evidence supplied by our dream effect, 
but have been obtained by a direct analysis of what 
must, logically, be the nature of any universe in 
which Time has length and in which events are 
experienced in succession. 

The case for the dream effect is, therefore, a 
double one — logical and empirical. The procedure 
in the book might, indeed, have been entirely 
reversed. We might have begun by analyzing what 
was involved in the fact that we experience events 
in succession. At the conclusion of that analysis 
we should have noticed — as a very trivial corollary 
to the disclosures of real importance — the proba- 
bility of the dream effect. And we might then have 
described the experiments undertaken to test the 
validity of this last conclusion. That would have 
been the usual fashion of a scientific report. 

But the circumstances in this rase are unique. 



164 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

It is obvious that, although the "observer at 
infinity" is nothing more magnificent or more 
transcendental than one's own highly ignorant self, 
he is beginning to look perilously like a full-fledged 
" animus" Now, it has been pointed out, in Part I., 
that belief in the animus must have originated in 
the study of dreams. Savages and men of poor 
education, remembering their dreams, could have 
come to no other conclusion but that, in dreams, 
they were in a field of existence entirely different 
from that of ordinary waking life. That belief has 
been supposed to be childish and absurd. If it 
were really so, then the case for the animus would 
have to be regarded as tainted at its source. 

I have thought it correct procedure, therefore, to 
begin by putting the savage before the court, and 
by showing, empirically, that his dreams did, in 
fact, occasionally provide him and his " seers " and 
his "prophets" with ample grounds for the belief 
that the dream field was something quite other than 
the waking field, and that his ultimate self enjoyed 
a degree of temporal freedom denied to the waking 
individual. 

The proofs advanced in the present fourth part 
of the book can then be dealt with on their merits. 



CHAPTER XXIII 

Since all observation is the observation of the 
observer at infinity, all field i thinking (successive, 
automatic experience of the cerebral states situated 
along Time i) is the thinking of that not always 
very clear-minded individual. But is this inspection 
of field i the only sort of thinking he achieves? 
And is what is presented in that field always so 
purely automatic as we have assumed throughout 
the previous analysis? 

This ultimate observer (who, be it remembered, 
is merely your ordinary everyday self) observes in 
field 2 (GH in Fig. 12) an image b pertaining to 
a brain-state bb\ which state (vertical line) has not 
yet been reached by the intersection point between 
GH and O'O*. In other words, you dream of a 
future event, and this event is experienced, waking, 
a day or two- later, when field 2 has moved to G^H*. 
On the morning following the dream — that is, when 
field 2 has moved only to G'H' — you, for reasons 
good or bad, note down on a piece of paper what 
you dreamed. 

The memory trace of that dream-experience of 
bb r is, clearly, not in the brain-state at cc', where 
field 1, O, is situated at the moment of writing down 
the dream. Therefore, — to be extremely logical, — ■ 
it must be somewhere else. 

The act of writing down the dream from that 
memory is thus a plain interference with the auto- 
matic sequence of cerebral events in Time 1. (How 
far this interference will affect our diagrams is a 
matter which will be dealt with in the next chapter.) 

165 



i66 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 



Also, the total process of reasoning which selects 
certain details of that dream-memory (which is not 
in field i) as being of importance to your intellectual 
investigation cannot be merely an inspection of 
brain-states in field i. 



Tl 



Tl 













c 



< 


/ 






9 












































/ 


/ 


/ 


/ 


/ 













Tl 



Fig. 12. 



We are therefore obliged to allow you the use of 
memory traces and intellectual equipments which 
are additional to those observable in field i. 

What can we discover about these? 

Consider what happens when you fall asleep. 

Your focus of attention becomes a four-dimen- 
sional focus confronted with four-dimensional 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 167 

presentations — presentations which cover periods, 
and not merely instants, in Time 1. (For the 
dreamer, of course, Time 2 is ultimate Time.) 
These field 2 presentations comprise the sensory 
phenomena, memory phenomena, and trains of 
associative thinking pertaining to your ordinary 
waking life, but all appearing as extended — more 
or less, according to the degree of concentration 
of your focus — in Time 1. The substratum to be 
observed is, as always, stationary. The appearance 
of movements proceeding in the three dimensions 
of Space can be produced in the same way as it is 
produced in field 1 when waking — i.e., by the move- 
ment of the focus of attention in the same Time 1 
direction — always provided, however, that this four- 
dimensional focus can be contracted in this dimen- 
sion to a length not very greatly in excess of that 
which it has when, during the waking hours, it is 
following, and centred about, a truly three-dimen- 
sional focus in field 1. 

But that travelling three-dimensional focus is not 
there as a guide when, as in dreams, observer 1 is 
inactive ; and the absence of that travelling concen- 
tration mark must make it rather difficult for you 
to keep your four-dimensional focus concentrated 
almost to nothing in the Time 1 dimension and 
travelling steadily in that dimension. 

This reference to your ability to concentrate is 
an assertion, of course, that you are more than a 
purely passive observer ; but since we have allowed 
you the power of intervening, we can hardly refuse 
you that power of concentrating attention which 
would be bound to be employed in such inter- 
vention. 

Now, it must be admitted that the conditions 
above described account very accurately for the 



168 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

characteristics of dream-phenomena as directly 
observed. Throughout your dream you endeavour 
to interpret the dream scenery as a succession of 
three-dimensional views similar to those which you 
experience in field i. And always the excessive 
Time i length of your focus defeats you. Nothing 
stays fixed to be looked at. Everything is in a 
state of flux. For always your view comprises the 
just before and the just after of the instant of 
Time i sought for. And, because of the continual 
breaking down of your attempts at maintaining a 
concentrated focus, the dream story develops in 
a series of disconnected scenes. You start on a 
journey . . . and find yourself abruptly at the end. 
You are always trying to keep attention moving 
steadily in the direction to which you are accustomed 
in your waking observation, — i.e., forward in Time 
i, — but always attention relaxes, and, when you re- 
contract it, you find, as often as not, that it is 
focussed on the wrong place and that you are re- 
observing an earlier scene in the dream story. You 
begin to follow up what you would recognize, were 
you awake, as a train of associated images; but 
your attention relaxes slightly in the middle of the 
journey, so that what is actually perceived may be 
the first image in the train followed instantly by 
the last. And thus you get that curious blending 
of associated but (really) several-links-apart images 
known {vide Part I.) as an "integration." That 
you seem to enter houses without passing through 
the walls is, of course, one of the most common- 
place of happenings in a four-dimensional world. 

It is very seldom, however, that you have a per- 
fectly unbroken sleep. The brain stirs, every now 
and then, to a random current of nervous energy — 
which means that field I comes upon something 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 169 

observable. Forthwith, attention (1, 2, and the rest 
of them) is focussed at the spot, and, as attention 1 
fades again, there appears among the dream images 
the four-dimensional image of which the field 1 
image has just been the centre, field 1 having moved 
on again to a blank space. The proceeding here 
is precisely the same as that which occurs at the 
moment of falling asleep. Bodily feelings, such 
as pain and cold, which make themselves felt in 
field 1, are, moreover, confused with the true dream 
images, as attention in field 1 comes into and goes 
out of existence. If attention to such experiences 
persists, you discover that you are awake. 

It is a remarkable fact, however, that you never 
find pain or any acute bodily feeling mingling with 
the dream images unless you are actually experi- 
encing such feelings in field 1 at that very moment 
of absolute Time. And this despite the fact that 
your attention is travelling among brain-states, past 
and future, in which bodily discomfort was, or will 
be, distinctly present to you when awake. 

The reason of this may not be far to seek. It is 
a well-known fact that intensity of bodily feeling 
depends very largely upon degree of concentration 
of attention, the soldier in battle often does not 
know that he has been wounded; you are unaware 
of toothache when you are running a race ; attention 
to a bad pain will cause a smaller one to vanish. 
While, if you concentrate attention on even a very 
minor discomfort, this waxes until it becomes almost 
unbearable. Now, in the absence of the travelling 
three-dimensional focus of field 1 as a mark, all 
the other focii of concentric attention become, on 
our present supposition, less concentrated. Hence, 
in dreams — the true dreams of unbroken sleep — 
you are never dazzled by bright suns, deafened by 



I/O AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

loud noises, irritated by uncomfortable garments, 
scorched or frozen or fatigued. Dreams, although 
they seem real enough, lack all these unpleasant 
intensity-characteristics of waking life; we are 
barely aware of the presence of our bodies. 

Pain, of course, is, according to the modern view, 
a sensation as distinct from other sensations as are 
light or sound. It has a separate neural apparatus 
of its own, and must not now be confused, as in 
the past, with that feeling of discomfort which 
accompanies the over-stimulation of sensory organs 
of other kinds. Pain in the eyes is something 
different to exceptionally brilliant light. The 
modern view may be expressed by saying that pain 
is the most disagreeable of sensations rather than 
that it is the sense of disagreeableness. Like all 
other sensations, its range of experienceable 
intensity must be limited. One cannot perceive 
colours down to an unlimited degree of dulness, or 
up to an unlimited degree of vividness. That one 
does not experience pain of less than a certain 
degree of intensity is obvious to any experimenter ; 
that unconsciousness intervenes when the intensity 
of that sensation rises to a certain limit was the 
outstanding difficulty of the medieval torturer. 
Pain's extreme unpleasantness, and the fact that 
it partly distracts attention from other sensations, 
does not mean that this range of observable 
intensity, from the just perceptible to the abso- 
lutely unbearable, is a long one. Certainly it is 
not a range which, like that of colour, contains a 
great number of separately distinguishable degrees. 
The fact, then, that pain is not apparent at all to 
an observer using the relaxed field 2 focus of 
"dreamland" may mean merely that the range of 
observable intensity pertaining to this unpleasant 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 171 

and overbearing phenomenon is considerably shorter 
than the range which pertains to the observable 
intensities of the sensation of light. 

Now, throughout your dream, you think about 
that dream, just as you think about your sensory 
experiences in waking life. You estimate the sig- 
nificance of what you see in the dream; you make 
naive plans to cope with the dream situations; you 
remember what has happened immediately before 
in the dream. And this is that additional, non- 
field- 1 thinking and remembering which we are try- 
ing to examine. 

It would be going too far to say that it is, in 
every sense, the thinking of a little child, for it 
involves conceptions which pertain to adult life, — 
such as, for example, political ideas. But we may 
all admit that it is thinking of an extraordinarily 
feeble kind as compared with that which accom- 
panies the inspection of the successive brain-states 
in field 1. Yet it is, very clearly, thinking of the 
same general character as that of our waking specu- 
lations. It is, as we have seen, based upon the 
idea that the perception of a succession of three- 
dimensional aspects is the only possible method 
of observational experience; it ignores the little 
before and the little after of the Time 1 instant 
sought for, regarding this as being mere instability 
in what is observed; it memorizes what is past in 
the dream in the same would-be-three-dimensional 
fashion ; and it causes attention, when concentrated, 
to travel in the accustomed Time 1 direction, despite 
the fact that Time, for the thinker in question, is 
at right angles to that dimension. 

It is true that one does not ascertain all this 
from observation of the dream, but from observation 
of the memories of the dream, after waking. But 



172 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

it is not observer i who is inspecting those memories. 
They are not in his field. Such remembering, when 
awake, of what you saw in the dream and of how 
you thought about it during the dream is something 
which you accomplish without the assistance of 
observer i. 

Let us consider here the imaginary case of a 
purely automatic observer 2 whose remembering 
and thinking were completely analogous to those 
of our first-term observer. This supposed super- 
individual would be equipped with memory traces 
extending in an associational network at right 
angles to Time 2. His thinking would consist of 
the wanderings of attention over this associational 
plexus — wanderings to and fro in Space and back- 
wards and forwards in Time 1. It would be think- 
ing of a glorified, four-dimensional kind, in which 
Time 2 would be the only apparent Time dimen- 
sion, and in which the four-dimensional way of 
regarding the substratum would be the natural and 
obvious way. This observer might be aware that 
all four-dimensional things were composed of an 
infinite number of three-dimensional sections; but 
he would never perceive, or try to perceive, as we 
do in dreams, one of those sections as unique, and 
the remainder as unstable, confusing additions. 

Now, the records of the wanderings of the real 
observer 2's attention in dreams — the records which 
enable you to remember those dreams — must be 
traces extending in four dimensions (Time 1 and the 
three ordinary dimensions of Space). And, whether 
these traces be in the cerebral substratum or in the 
Time-travelling observer 2 (who is a four-dimen- 
sional entity distinct from the substratum over 
which he moves), or anywhere else, they are bound 
to constitute some sort of an associational network. 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 173 

So we are confronted with the case of an observer 
who actually does possess the mental structural 
equipment adapted to the viewing of presentations 
in their four-dimensional entirety, but who en- 
deavours, nevertheless, to regard such presentations 
as merely three-dimensional phenomena. 

Your thinking, in the absence of observer 1, 
involves, therefore, something over and beyond the 
mere inspection of a four-dimensional associational 
structure. It involves interpretation of that 
structure. 

So it begins to look as if Professor W. McDougall were 
right in one main particular. For nearly all his arguments 
in favour of the existence of the animus amount to an 
insistence that what he calls "meanings" are interpre- 
tations by the animus of what is presented in the way of 
imagery by the brain. Yet it would be difficult for us to 
accept McDougalTs view in its simple entirety. There 
is an opposition theory too strong and too eminently 
reasonable to be ignored. It is, I think, best expressed 
by Professor J. S. Moore, who declares that " Meaning is 
context" and proceeds to argue that the meaning of a 
specific idea is simply the fringe of associated ideas which 
constitute that context. 

The answer given by Serialism seems to be that Moore 
is right, but that McDougall, nevertheless, is not wholly 
wrong. 

If meaning is given by context, — by attendant associa- 
tions, — it must be given by the fringe of a partially relaxed 
attention. And this is borne out by the fact that, when 
our attention to an object is greatly concentrated, we 
notice the quality and form of that object at the expense 
of noticing its meaning. Now, the attention of observer 2, 
when surrounding and following that of a waking 
observer 1, is, on our theory, kept concentrated in the 
Time I dimension; and changes in concentration take 
place mainly in the three dimensions of Space. So that 
contexts, to the waking observer, are mainly relations of 
spacial position and spacial motion. And that is 



174 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

certainly true of the meanings which he attaches to what 
he perceives. The contexts supplied by the very slightly 
overlapping fringe of attention in the fourth dimension 
are those which exhibit the Time-travelling of observer I, 
and a hint of Time I pattern in the substratum. 

All of which fits in very nicely with Moore's definition. 

But to our imagined automatic observer 2, thinking — 
in the absence of observer 1 — in four-dimensional fashion, 
contexts in the fourth dimension should be interpretations 
as clear as are those in the three dimensions of ordinary 
Space. Yet it is just these fourth-dimensional contexts 
which are not, to the real observer, clear interpretations. 
And they are not clear — to him — because they are them- 
selves misinterpreted — by him. Instead of being regarded 
as fourth-dimensional associational extensions, they are 
regarded as perplexing three-dimensional instabilities. 
And backward travellings of attention, from the future 
to the past of Time 1, are simply not noticed at all. 
Interpretations of that kind must be interpretations by 
the observer of the context fringes concerned. 

Here an analogy may be of service. Consider 
a child who, through a certain amount of experience 
in reading two-dimensional sheets of printed music, 
has acquired the habit of interpreting those sheets 
as arrangements of one-dimensional chords to be 
followed by attention in succession from left to 
right. When reading such a sheet he is in the 
position of an observer employing field 1. To 
extend the analogy so as to exhibit him in the 
position of an observer during sleep, we should 
have to imagine him equipped with a focus of vision 
which could not be concentrated enough to admit 
of its containing one chord only at a time. But we 
can get over that difficulty by supposing him, now, 
to be provided with a sheet in which the chords, 
instead of being clearly separated, are so crowded 
together that each partly interlocks with its imme- 
diate neighbours to right and left, the result being 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME i£5 

that no chord can be seen singly by itself. Now, 
none will deny that the child, presented with such 
a sheet, would begin by trying to read the puzzling 
thing in the old, accustomed way, or that the habit 
which compelled him to this would be, not in the 
sheet, but in his mind. So it is that the habit of 
three-dimensional interpretation which afflicts us in 
dreams is not a feature of the four-dimensional 
phenomena observed, but a characteristic in our- 
selves as observers. As for our inability to notice 
in dreams the movements of our attention back- 
wards in Time i, the habit of interpretation estab- 
lished in the ultimate thinker is amply sufficient to 
account for this. No child, reading a sheet of 
music, observes what his eyes pass over when he 
moves them back to the beginning of a new line. 
You (I hope) have read every word from the 
beginning of this book, and your gaze has flashed 
thousands of times from the right edge of the page 
to the left; but never once have you read a line 
backwards, or even noticed what the backward 
aspect of a line looks like. In fact, even now that 
you try, you cannot perceive that aspect; and the 
nearest approach to a realization thereof that you 
can achieve is that which you obtain by viewing a 
word written backward, but still from left to right — 
looking-glass fashion. And the habit which blinds 
you to that aspect is not in the printed page, but 
in yourself. 

So we are driven to the interesting conception of 
an ultimate thinker who is learning to interpret 
what is presented to his notice, the educative process 
involved being his following, during the waking 
hours, with unremitting, three-dimensional attention, 
the facile, automatic action of that marvellous piece 
of associative machinery, the brain. 



176 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

This, admittedly, is a complete reversal of the 
old-time animist's conception of the "higher" 
observer as an individual of superlative intelligence 
producing the best effect he can with the aid of a 
clumsy material equipment. But it seems to me 
there is no getting away from the plain evidence 
afforded by the character of our dream thinking. 
Whatever capacities for eventually superior intelli- 
gence may be latent in the observer at infinity, they 
are capacities which await development. At the 
outset brain is the teacher and mind the pupil. 
Mind begins its struggle towards structure and 
individuality by moulding itself upon brain. 

Evolution has worked for possibly eight hundred 
million years towards the development of brain. 
To-day, as Professor McKendrick points out, 
nearly all the functions of our bodies are operating 
towards the end of the adequate nutrition of the 
grey matter. And it now appears that, apart from 
its self-sustaining and self-developing activities, the 
brain serves as a machine for teaching the embryonic 
soul to think. 

We are now in a position to consider what is 
the origin of the habit which keeps the ultimate 
observer's attention focussed in field i. 

In field i he has to deal with merely a simple 
succession of three-dimensional phenomena in a 
three-dimensional field. But in field 2 he is con- 
fronted with a view of four-dimensional phenomena 
in a four-dimensional field. And, in addition, he 
has these four-dimensional phenomena duplicated. 
For example, he may find at a (Fig. 1 1) a memory 
revival of a preceding event in Time 1. And he 
has also, somewhere between G and a, the original 
event which originated the memory traces subse- 
quently revived. In field 3 the substratum (see 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 177 

Fig. 10) is crowded with five-dimensional phe- 
nomena (containing, however, none that are not 
already represented in simpler four-dimensional 
form in field 2); and these phenomena, owing, to 
the less concentrated area of the focus of attention, 
are of less intensity than are those in either field 1 
or field 2. And the intelligibility of the presen- 
tations gets worse, and their vividness gets less, as 
we proceed up the series. 

It is in field 1, then, that, for the infant, phe- 
nomena first become distinguishable at all. And 
his attention stays where there is something to be 
attended to. 

Next, we know that, even within the limits of 
field 1, an adult's attention may be attracted from 
without as well as directed from within. We know, 
also, that the directing of attention away from a 
point of attraction is a process which has to be 
learned, painfully, at the schoolroom desk. The 
young child's attention must be, therefore, largely 
at the mercy of attraction. And we know that the 
greatest attractors of attention are the cruder bodily 
pleasures and bodily pains. These exist only in 
field 1. Thus pain performs a service other than 
purely physiological. 

Finally, the child learns quickly enough that in 
field 1 he can intervene to obtain those pleasures 
and avoid those pains. And that, very rapidly, 
becomes the dominating aim of the man. 



Reviewing the foregoing parts of this chapter, 
we see that ultimate Mind — the Mind which can 
appreciate only the most elementary aspects in the 
complex structural equipment at its disposal — must 
always exhibit itself as something external to any 

1? 



178 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

structural conception thereof that we can attempt 
to form. 

'ft <9r "Jr *ir tt 

In Part I. of this book we carefully refrained 
from tackling the question as to whether the 
internal directing of attention was to be attributed 
to the ultimate observer, or to be regarded as 
originating in the purely automatic internal con- 
dition of the brain. We contented ourselves with 
noting that, if we regarded the ultimate observer 
as the responsible agent, we should be according 
him the status of an animus, with power of inter- 
vention, since the concentrating of attention is 
known to have a marked effect in the formation 
of memory traces. 

It would be best, however, in order to avoid any 
possible trap for an incautious thinker, to show 
that such directing of attention — such intervention 
— must be attributed to the observer at infinity. 

The question is, really, whether, in any higher 
field, attention may be bound to coincide with 
some feature in the substratum analogous to the 
"maximum flow of cerebral energy" in field i. 

We saw, earlier, that the analysis had brought to 
light no law which compelled attention to direct 
itself upon any particular phenomenon in any par- 
ticular field. It was pointed out that attention, 
which is referable to the observer at infinity, was 
sharply distinguished by the analysis from that 
which was presented to attention; that is, from the 
contents of the substratum. Now, "maximum flow 
of cerebral energy," or anything analogous thereto 
in any higher field, is a substratum feature, and, as 
such, categorically distinct from " focus of atten- 
tion." Theoretically the two things may be 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME i;o 

separated. And that this theoretical distinction is 
a practical, real distinction, and not merely a bit 
of metaphysical hair-splitting, is shown by the 
"waking experiment." For there the one thing is 
present and the other is absent. 

There is one great difference between the con- 
ditions in this waking experiment and those which 
obtain in dreams. In the former case the cessation 
of field i attention, which sets free field 2 attention, 
is not accompanied by the cessation of body-main- 
tained cerebral activity. The eyes may be open, 
transmitting to the cerebrum light-stimulations 
differing in intensity at different parts of the field 
of vision. Noises of various degrees of loudness 
are assailing the ears. Cerebral action is flooding 
associational tracts, presenting those hosts of 
associated images to which attention (this, as we 
saw, is the very essence of the waking experiment) 
must be determinedly refused. 

This shows that the theoretical distinction 
between the focus of attention of the observer at 
infinity and any line in the substratum which it may 
habitually follow is a real one, and so we are bound 
to regard it as always possible for such focus to 
be separated from any such line. And, where the 
two things do coincide, the observer at infinity must 
be regarded as an accessory, passive or active, to 
that coincidence. 

All of which, of course, is to admit that the 
observer at infinity is an individual potentially 
capable of exercising what is called "freewill "* 
though how far he may be said to have developed 
that capability is quite another matter. 

That he can, and does, direct attention in field 1 

* Nobody means by " free " will a thing actuated by no 
motive whatsoever. 



180 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

is now plain enough. But his control in field 2 
seems to be as limited as is his comprehension of 
that area. We may note, however, that, throughout 
his dreams, his rudimentary intelligence is extremely 
active in attaching interpretations to that which he 
observes. (Indeed, as I remarked earlier, he is a 
master-hand at attaching wrong ones.) And it is a 
matter of common knowledge that he employs this 
function of interpretation in weaving a dream story 
— a drama of personal adventures — out of the 
various presentations upon which his attention 
becomes focussed. If he can direct his attention 
at all in this field, he can modify the trend of that 
story; can, in fact, build the drama to please him- 
self. He has an almost unlimited wealth of 
material. He is, as we have seen, potentially 
capable of exercising that control, and, judging 
from my own experience, I am disposed to think 
that he does do so to a small extent, and that his 
effectiveness in that respect increases with practice. 
Adults, I fancy, are not so much at the mercy of 
their dreams as are children; they can (certainly I 
can), occasionally, alter a situation which fails to 
please. 

These, however, are matters for the psycho- 
analyst. But perhaps when we have learned to 
interpret fourth-dimensional contexts as " present " 
wholes, — to think four-dimensionally, — and to 
master the movements of our attention, we may find 
field 2 of greater interest than field 1. But that 
development in comprehension and control is not 
likely to occur so long as we continue to spend 
nineteen hours out of the twenty-four in practising 
three-dimensional attention in field 1. 

We must live before we can attain to either 
intelligence or control at all. We must sleep if we 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 181 

are not to find ourselves, at death, helplessly strange 
to the new conditions. (The universality of sleep 
is a remarkable feature in Nature's plan.) And 
we must die before we can hope to advance to a 
broader understanding. 



CHAPTER XXIV 

Consider, now, the situation represented in Fig 13. 

When (in absolute Time) field 2 is at GH, the 
substratum between a and H comprises an ordered 
arrangement of three-dimensional cerebral states, all 
in the future part of Time 1 . That ultimate thinker 
who is the observer of dreams — which involve the 
observation of field 2 as present — observes, let us 
say, at that moment, one of these future states b'. 
After waking, when field 2 is at G'H', and field 1 
is at O, this thinker intervenes at O. That inter- 
vention we will suppose to be due to his memory 
of the dream; just as every word which I write in 
this book is intervention due, originally, to my 
memories of similar dreams. (The diagram, how- 
ever, will serve equally well to illustrate the results 
of an act of intervention originating in any other 
activity of the ultimate observer's partially trained 
mind.) Now, we have to note that such an act of 
intervention may result in the complete alteration of 
part of observer i's future career. Taking the train 
to Dover instead of the express to Southampton 
may lead to his being decapitated by Russian 
politicians instead of being clubbed by a New York 
policeman. So he may never encounter the cerebral 
event represented by bb" , — the event perceived in 
the dream, — and may, instead, when field 2 is at 
G"H", encounter a totally different event, c. 

In the sort of life led by the average civilized 
man, intervention has seldom any very great effect 
in altering future experience. We live too much 
in ruts for that. A man may, on Monday, take a 

182 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 



183 



ticket for a Saturday matinee, and he may, during 
the next few days, perform countless little acts of 
intervention ; but these will not necessarily prevent 
his occupying his seat on the Saturday, or prevent 
his seeing on the stage a scene of which he may 
have dreamed on Monday night. The intervention 



G 

G' 

G 



T.Z 



T.I 




— T.I 



Fig. 13. 

at O may, thus, alter some of the events between 
O and H' while leaving others unchanged. In fact, 
if we represent the alterations by breaks in the ver- 
tical lines, just above OH', the result would be the 
sort of thing shown in the figure. 

It is to be noticed, however, that these breaks 
in the verticals are to be regarded, not as fixed sub- 



i84 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

stratum features which exist before (in absolute 
Time) observer i reaches O, but as changes in that 
substratum which occur at the instant when (in 
absolute Time) this observer reaches that point. 
This means that the breaks are being represented 
as due to intervention, and consequent upon the 
ultimate thinker's interpretation of the event which 
he has, in his dream, perceived at b' . (We saw in 
the last chapter that such interpretation cannot be 
represented as any sort of context or trace in the 
substratum.) To regard the breaks as pre-existing 
(in absolute Time) fixities in the Time-map 
travelled-over would mean that the ultimate thinker 
would encounter the new event whether he had the 
dream of the old one or not : the breaks would not 
be occurring as the result of the dream. 

We saw in the last chapter that all movements 
of attention require passive consent or active inter- 
vention on the part of the observer at infinity. 
Where such movements involve a departure of atten- 
tion from that line in the substratum which represents 
the flow of maximum cerebral energy, we have active 
intervention accompanied by substratum changes 
similar to those shown in Fig. 13. But, considering 
the degree of intelligence which the intervener ex- 
hibits when the brain is dormant and not employ- 
able as an aid to his reasoning, we cannot conceive 
that his interference with cerebral thought processes 
amounts to very much more than an insistence that 
the machine in question shall . operate towards a 
certain end of his own. The intervener, in fact, 
is analogous, not to a skilled musician composing 
with the aid of a piano, but to the amateur user of 
a pianola, whose interferences with the complex per- 
formances of that instrument is limited to the 
changing of one perforated roll for another. 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 185 

That the change in the substratum takes place 
all along OH' instantaneously (in absolute Time) 
is obvious enough when we regard the effects of the 
intervention from the standpoint of our more cus- 
tomary, three-dimensional philosophy. None can 
deny that, when he takes a step to prevent an other- 
wise probable event from occurring, the probability 
of that event (however distant) being encountered 
is altered at the precise instant when he takes that 
step. Translating that into the language of four- 
dimensional philosophy, it means that the prob- 
ability of observer 1 encountering the event bb" 
when (in absolute Time) he arrives at c is changed 
at the "precise instant when " he intervenes. That 
' ' precise instant " is an instant in the Time which 
times his travel along O'O', which Time is Time 3 
— the absolute Time for the diagram. The breaks 
occur, therefore, when (in absolute Time) observer 1 
reaches O, which is when (in absolute Time) field 2 
reaches G'H'. The altered course between O and 
H' will be, in all its parts, a mechanical sequence 
just as perfect as before. 

It is clear that the alteration of the substratum along 
OH' must affect also that extension of that line as a plane 
(perpendicular to the paper) which represents the line's 
endurance in Time 3. The "future" part of that plane 
must change with the change in the line. And so on 
through all the futures ahead of O in all dimensions of 
Time. Consequently, nowhere in our serial Time-maps 
can we pick out a path ahead of O which is absolutely 
determinate in all its parts. 

It is, perhaps, unnecessary to point out that the 
ultimate "observer" and the ultimate "thinker" 
are, throughout the analysis, the observer and the 
thinker who remain unaccounted-for at the comple- 
tion of each stage of that analysis, — the individual 



186 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

who is travelling over the last Time dimension shown 
in diagrammatic form. They are, thus, always one 
and the same entity. 

# * # # # 

The present writer cannot know how the reader 
feels about the matter, but at this point he himself 
would be grateful for ten minutes' interval in which 
to sort out and rearrange the pile of information so 
far provided by the investigation. 

The result of that process, in his view, must ex- 
hibit itself as follows. 

Serialism is the perfected statement of the relation 
between observer and observed. 

To analyze that relation, you must begin by re- 
garding both the related parties (observer and ob- 
served) as objects to yourself, the thinking 
subject, — you must put both into your picture. 
Consequently, you are obliged to take, as the ob- 
server for analysis, not yourself, but another, 
imagined, individual, who is assumed to be similar 
to yourself. Let us call him, for the sake of brevity 
and euphony, Jones. 

You begin by studying Jones as a conscious in- 
dividual. All that you here discover is that he 
cannot possibly be conscious unless he is serially 
conscious. 

Noting this, you proceed next to examine him as 
an individual who experiences in succession all the 
states of that which he observes. This involves your 
making your picture one dimension larger than 
Jones. Whereupon, the analysis exhibits Jones to 
you as a conscious, psychical individual travelling 
along a Time dimension. But it gives no indica- 
tion that he is anything more than an automaton. 

You find, however, that, in proceeding thus far 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 187 

in your analysis, you have logically committed your- 
self to enlarging your canvas by yet another dimen- 
sion. Whereupon, Jones 1 appears to you as ob- 
served by another, larger-dimensioned observer, 
who, however, is not yourself, but still Jones, — 
Jones 2, — while Jones 1 now definitely exhibits him- 
self to you as the mere perishable automaton which 
materialism has always held him to be. Jones 2, 
however, appears as imperishable. 

Continuation of the analysis shows you a series 
of Joneses each observing the Jones of the next 
lower term, All these are imperishable except the 
first; and all are automatons except the last, about 
whom you do not yet know enough to dogmatize. 

Here you pause to revise your work, and to con- 
sider, in particular, the legitimacy of the steps in 
your analysis. But you can find no flaw. Nowhere 
have you slipped unwittingly into an attempt to 
analyze yourself. Nowhere have you substituted 
yourself for the objective observer you are consider- 
ing. You have stuck throughout to Jones ; and 
Jones is fair game. 

You note, next, that this serial Jones is serially 
conscious in exactly the way demanded by your 
initial conclusions regarding consciousness. 

Now, Jones is similar to yourself. Consequently, 
you should be able to check the accuracy of your 
hitherto purely logical discoveries regarding Jones 
by reference to your own experiences. 

A serial Jones must be able to observe the actual 
passage of himself along a Time dimension. Since 
this would apply equally to yourself, you have an 
explanation of how it is that all men, educated and 
uneducated, and all children, are agreed about the 
passage of a fundamental but indefinable " Time." 

You note that, when Jones's brain is entirely in- 



1 88 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

operative, Jones 2 should be able to observe images 
of the experiences successively provided for him by 
the brain when in its active state. This, certainly, 
would be a very curious happening. Nevertheless, 
on turning to your own experiences, you find that, 
when your brain is apparently asleep, you " dream," 
and do experience images of waking events. 

You make the still more startling discovery that 
the images perceived by Jones in such "dreams" 
should include some relating to his future waking 
experiences. You test this on yourself and find it 
true. 

You have discovered, during the analysis, that the 
focussing of attention is a function of the ultimate 
Jones (the last Jones considered in the series), that 
attention thus focussed is a psychical element 
entirely distinct from that feature in Jones's sub- 
stratum upon which such attention happens to be 
focussed, and that there is no law in nature which 
compels attention to be focussed anywhere in partir 
cular in the substratum. This suggests that, when 
attention is focussed anywhere in that substratum, 
such focussing must be due to the action of the ulti- 
mate Jones. If that is indeed the case, the ultimate 
Jones should be able to shift attention from field 1 
to field 2 even when the waking brain is supplying 
experiences to Jones 1 . You test this upon your- 
self by means of the "waking experiment," and 
find that it holds true. 

Since the ultimate Jones can direct attention, he 
can intervene to alter the course of mechanical 
events. You prove the truth of this in your Own 
case by making the mechanical waking action of 
writing down one of your dreams of future experi- 
ence. 

From a study of the mental operations involved in 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 189 

this last action of yours, you conclude that your 
observer at infinity must be capable of remember- 
ing and thinking without employing the assistance 
of the brain. You realize that, in this case, such 
remembering and thinking should be apparent when 
the brain is asleep and observer 2 is inspecting the 
fixed cerebral states arranged elsewhere along Time 
1, — i.e., is dreaming. Experiment satisfies you that 
you do, in fact, when dreaming, think about your 
dreams and remember previous events in those 
dreams. 

Examination of your dream-thinking and dream- 
remembering shows that, though your brain is 
asleep, you, as the ultimate observer of your series, 
try to continue both observing and remembering in 
the same three-dimensional fashion as you do when 
the brain is awake and you are observing its succes- 
sive states presented in field 1. This, you realize 
(since your dreaming attention is four-dimensional), 
is bound to result in a curious and confusing 
temporal instability in the images observed and re- 
membered, — an instability which must render the 
dream images much less definite than are those other 
"images" which you can produce in waking 
imagination. Experiment shows that this is true. 

From that you are bound to conclude that the 
ultimate observer's mind is moulding itself through 
observation of the successively presented states of 
the brain, and is, therefore, learning to think in 
three-dimensional fashion. All of which insists that 
your dream-thinking must be, at the present stage 
of your life, inferior to your waking thinking (when, 
as the ultimate observer, you, with your power of 
intervention, are utilizing the assistance of the 
brain). Examination of the degree of lucidity of 
your dream-thinking bears this out. 



190 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

The results of the analysis assure you that, 
in dreams, — Jones's or yours, — bodily sensations 
should be much less intense than they are in waking 
life. Experiment shows that this is the case. 

You discover excellent reasons why the ultimate 
Jones should keep his attention focussed upon Jones 
i so long as the brain is providing Jones i with 
anything to observe. This, you find, is what you 
do yourself. 

Here you make a conjecture. But it is your first 
and only one; and the point involved is of quite 
minor importance. In the absence of anything ob- 
servable at the place in Time i where Jones i 
happens to be, Jones i ceases to provide a travelling 
guide-mark for Jones 2 ; and it seems to you likely 
that, in these circumstances, the movements of 
Jones 2's attention in field 2 are likely to be ex- 
tremely erratic. This, you find, agrees with your 
own experience in dreams. 

Finally, the conception of the observer which you 
have so far obtained provides you with satisfactory 
teleological reasons for the eventualities of birth, 
three-dimensional life, pain, sleep, and death. 

# # # # # 

The ultimate thinker or interpreter — the member 
of the series whose thinking is something over and 
beyond mere observation of the contents of his field 
— is that observer who, like the ultimate Time, 
remains unindicated in each diagram of the series. 
In the first term — exhibited in Figs. 7 (a) or 7 (b) — 
he is observer 1 ; in the second term he is observer 
2, his field being pictured in Fig. 9. And so on 
to infinity. It is essential that we consider the 
series so far as to include the second term, other- 
wise the serial relation will not be fully disclosed. 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 191 

But there is no practical object to be achieved by 
considering the remoter terms. You will find that 
no new kinds of relation between observer and 
observed become apparent in the third term. Carry- 
ing the analysis further means merely pushing back 
the ultimate observer and thinker, with all his 
peculiar functions, and the insertion of additional 
reagents, all reacting to the contents of the sub- 
stratum, and all unconscious save where this ultimate 
observer employs them to gain an acuter view. 

It is sufficient, then, for you to picture the world 
as containing observer 2 ; that is, as the field 3 of 
Fig. 9. This gives you the complete serial relation. 



CHAPTER XXV 

[NOTE. — Unless the present reader is interested in the 
science of physics, he is recommended to skip this 
chapter.] 

Physics, shortly before the Relativitist landslide 
had begun to make itself fully felt, suffered from 
two shocks of great magnitude — so great, indeed, 
that the damage done has not even yet been fully 
determined. In the first of these, matter, after 
standing for centuries as the most fundamental of 
all things, was swept aside, leaving the " Electron " 
exposed as, apparently, the true basis of the objec- 
tive universe. But the second shock, which resulted 
from the discovery of a curious entity called the 
"Quantum," effected an even profounder change 
in the situation. 

The quantum appeared to correspond in some 
cryptic fashion to the actual atom of a certain phy- 
sical quantity which had for long (even in the days 
when it could be thought of as nothing more con- 
crete than mathematico-physical expression) been 
recognized as by far-and-away the most fundamental 
thing of its kind. This physical quantity is called 
"Action" It must not be confounded with 
" action " in the conventional sense. It is a quantity 
which involves in some queer way kinetic energy 
multiplied by Time, or momentum multiplied by 
Space ; but the general reader need not perplex him- 
self concerning the meanings of these very curious 
expressions. In the present state of physics, any- 
one who tries to make a mental picture of what is 
signified by " action " is simply seeking for trouble; 

I Q3 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 193 

and the layman would be well advised to settle with 
himself that the word, when encountered, means 
merely a known, but as yet unidentified, funda- 
mental entity. 

"Action," says Professor Eddington, "is 
generally regarded as the most fundamental thing in 
the real world of physics, although the mind passes 
it over because of its lack of permanence ; and it is 
vaguely believed that the atomicity of action is the 
general law, and that the appearance of electrons is 
in some way dependent on this. But the precise 
formulation of the theory of quanta of action has 
hitherto baffled physicists.' ' 

It is clear enough, however, that if we consider 
any atoms of " action" in terms of Serialism, we 
must think of these as little entities dotted (so to 
say) along Time 1 and enduring in Time 2 — that 
is, as real entities in field 2, as real as are the 
electrons in field 1 . 

Before the discovery of the quantum, a principle 
called the " Principle of Least Action " had firmly 
established itself as one of the great basic general- 
izations of the science of physics. The principle 
relates to the paths followed by bodies possessing 
"mass" when they change from one grouping to 
another later on in Time. And it lays down that 
these paths will be such that the "action" (the 
energy multiplied by Time quantity) will be the least 
possible in the circumstances. The principle is, 
thus, capable of prophetic application. 

There is # another exact science which can claim to 
be prophetic. It is a purely mathematical one, 
differing from physics in that it assumes that the 
calculator has no means of ascertaining what, if any, 
laws of mechanical cause and effect are involved in 
his problem, and so ignores all such and arrives at 

13 



194 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

his result by the estimation of "probability." 
Physics can prophesy the path immediately ahead 
of a planet by the " Principle of Least Action" : 
this other science — the mathematical science of 
"Probability" — can prophesy the same thing just 
as accurately by means 01 what is called the ' ' Prin- 
ciple of Greatest Probability." The man-in-the- 
street is employing this science unwittingly when 
he says, regarding some future event: "The 
chances in its favour are so great that its occurrence 
is a moral certainty." The science in question re- 
gards all future events as " probabilities, ' and what 
it tells you about them is their degree of probability. 
When this is so great as to make the occurrence a 
certainty, the science becomes as truly prophetic as 
is physics. 

To the exponent of this mathematical science, 
there is one, and one only, future condition of the 
universe — that which, considering all the present 
circumstances, has the ' ' Greatest Probability. ' * To 
the physicist, there is also one, and one only, future 
condition of the universe — that which, taking all 
present circumstances into account, will involve the 
"Least Action." 

Since the future condition envisaged is the same 
for both sciences, we are here considering two prin- 
ciples leading us to one and the same conclusion by, 
apparently, totally different routes. And we should 
have good reason to suspect that these two principles 
must be merely different ways of regarding some 
single, underlying principle in the construction of 
the universe. 

Now, it so happens that Eddington, delving in 
the realm of mathematical physics, noticed that a 
certain very unique feature was apparent in both 
a " probability " and in " action." This suggested, 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 195 

not only that the two things were related, but that 
the relation must be of a certain very definite 
mathematical character. Then came the confirma- 
tion. This mathematical relation had been arrived 
at without taking into consideration the two " Prin- 
ciples " ; but, on applying it to the mathematical 
expressions of those principles, he found that it 
actually converted the Principle of Greatest Prob- 
ability " into the " Principle of Least Action," and 
vice versa. These became, therefore, merely two 
different ways of expressing one and the same 
underlying fact. 

To sum up, Eddington identifies "action" with 
what is called a "function" of a "probability." 
"Action," he holds (the general reader need not 
worry about understanding the mathematics), is, 
"minus the logarithm of the statistical probability 
of the state of the world which exists." (" Exists " 
means, exists at the place in Time considered, with- 
out reference to whether that place be past, present, 
or future.) 

The reader may not understand anything about 
logarithms ; but he will be able to see that the prob- 
able " state of the world " envisaged in the sentence 
is not a probable state of the "action." For, if 
so, the statement would assert that "action" was 
minus the logarithm of the statistical probability 
of the state of itself ! What sort of a world, then, 
does Eddington mean by " the world which exists," 
seeing that it is not a world of "action"? The 
answer can only be (since Eddington's identifica- 
tion depends upon " action " being regarded as the 
most fundamental entity) that it is a world con- 
sidered as comprised of certain entities less funda- 
mental than "■ action." 

Having determined this point, we are in a position 



196 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

to consider what the identification signifies when ex- 
pressed in non-mathematical language. 

In the first place, we have to bear in mind that 
Eddington is writing as a Time-dimensionalist, and 
that, to him, units of action are entities existing in 
a positive, present universe. On the other hand, 
" probabilities " are expressions employed in a 
science which regards Time as a mere abstraction. 
So that the "probable" future groupings which 
it has in mind are groupings of certain entities 
pertaining to a world of fewer dimensions than 
Eddington* s. 

Hence the identification is a statement reconciling 
two sciences — one dealing with probable groupings 
of three-dimensional entities, and the other with 
existing groupings of higher-dimensional entities. 
And it means this : Wherever we (thinking in terms 
of three-dimensional science) consider that there are, 
in the future of imaginary Time, events of maximum 
probability, we must (when we think in terms of 
any Time-dimensional science) consider that there 
are, in a present, existing Time-field, units of action 
(real configurations of more fundamental entities) 
arranged as pertains to a condition of least action. 
To us, it is obvious, at once, that the statement 
about the "probable groupings" is a statement 
concerning what would be thought of as " things " 
by a physicist who was considering our field i as 
being his present, existing world. W m * e . tne state - 
ment about the corresponding " action " is a state- 
ment concerning what would be regarded as things 
by a physicist who was considering some field 
higher in our series as being the present, existing 
world. 

The substratum with which we have been con- 
cerned in our earlier chapters is of a very simple 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 197 

kind : it grows merely by the straightforward 
addition of dimensions of Time. All the com- 
plicated part of the serialism in our diagrams — the 
system of observers, fields, and reagents — is purely 
psychical. If we reject the hypothesis of the 
atomicity of action, our substratum is a multidimen- 
sional continuum of the following kind. The 
atoms of matter — or, let us say, the electrons — 
separated in Space, would extend in Time 1 as 
unbroken world-lines, which, in turn, would extend 
in Time 2 as world -planes. On that continuum we 
should have to (as we have done) impose our 
psychical system of travelling fields. The result 
would provide us with all that is essential to that 
Serialism which this book is attempting to expound. 
If, however, we adopt the belief that there are 
atoms of action more fundamental than electrons, 
we can no longer regard the contents of field 2 as 
simply the contents of field 1 temporally extended 
— for the action atom configuration involves a 
temporal atomicity which not only breaks up any 
such attempted world-lines, but shows them as 
streams of atoms more fundamental and higher- 
dimensioned than are those of field 1. That 
modification would not, however, invalidate the 
results we have obtained in previous chapters by 
analysis of the psychical side of the picture. 

■ff w 3n* V ^r 

There is, of course, no reason why a Relativitist 
should not regard the field 2 of Fig. 9 as deform- 
able. This would make field 3 deformable in those 
four dimensions. But that would not affect the 
validity of the Serialises argument. Field 3 might 
be deformable in all five dimensions without 
troubling him. It seems to me, however, that the 



198 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

simplest combination of Serialism with a Relativitist 
view is that of regarding field 2 as the Relativitist' s 
real world of "point-events" — his world which is 
the same for all observers and so across which all 
psychical observers move with a common Time 
dimension and share a common field 1. Field 3 
would extend upwards and downwards in Time 2 
from that four-dimensional base.* 

* This would involve treating the Relativity problem itself 
in serial fashion. The geometrical character of the common- 
to-all field 1 would be similar to that of the whole region 
around the cone apices in Relativity diagrams; but each 
observer 1 would regard the field as three-dimensional and 
as travelling " straight " along his own world-line. If we 
insist that the field must move as a whole in some absolute 
direction, we have it that its path must lie somewhere between 
the two light-tracks; but a little consideration will show that 
the search for such an absolute direction of travel is the 
search for the absolute position of a universal reagent 1 
(treated as an inclined plane in a cube, with Time 2 as time). 
This is, clearly, the Relativity problem introduced anew in a 
higher stage of the analysis, and a solution would be sought 
for on the usual lines — by regarding the whole cube, repre- 
senting a five-dimensional world, as deformable. 



CHAPTER XXVI 

It is to be feared that the observer's power 
of interference does not suffice to make him 
wholly master of his fate. For there are other 
observers, employing similar capabilities. While 
our friend is in bed, dreaming of the happy prob- 
abilities of his future, some enemy, afflicted by this 
mania for intervention, may proceed to fire the 
house and reduce those probabilities to might-have- 
beens. (They would always remain, of course, 
entities in the substratum past of Time 2, but 
entities never encountered by field 1.) And, if the 
observer may owe his Time 1 end to the inter- 
vention of other observers, it is fairly certain that 
he owes his beginning to nothing else. Before his 
birth he can be nothing but a probability in the 
future of the race. 

This brings us to the question of how the fields 
of different observers are related. 

Our knowledge that such observers can intervene 
helps us to see that their respective field i's must, 
in their motions along Time 1, keep very nearly 
in line. For, if the field of an observer A lagged 
behind that of an observer B, and A were to inter- 
vene in B's career at that point in B's substratum 
which was level with A, then B would find his 
experiences in his field 1 miraculously altered. In 
fact, he might find himself miraculously dead, 
having been slain by A, unknown to himself, some 
little way back. And that sort of thing does not 
happen in our experience. 

Now, these field i's are merely the intersections 

i99 



200 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

of the fixed diagonal reagents by the field 2's. 
Since, then, the field i's move approximately in 
line, the fixed diagonals must lie in approximately 
the same plane. But it also follows that the 
field 2's, in moving up Time 2, must maintain a 
fairly even "dressing. 

Relativity does not, at present, deal with the 
movements of these field i's at all. It concerns 
itself merely with maps of the substrata over which 
these fields move.* If, however, we were to apply 
Serialism to Relativity theory, we should find, 
perhaps, that our fixed diagonals in two dimensions 
of Time could not be regarded as being strictly 
in the same plane. But the extent to which the 
fields or diagonals could be out of exact alignment 
would be considerably limited by a law which 
insisted that, if any observer's intervention in his 
field 1 consisted in his sending a light-ray to 
another observer, that light-ray would have to 
arrive at the second observer's field 1. 

Let us consider, however, the case of a mother 
and her child. It is clear that, at the moment of 
the child's birth, the field i's of these two indi- 
viduals must coincide. This involves that their 
field 2's are, at that point, in contact and at the 
same instant in Time 2. It also involves that their 
respective diagonal reagents are, at that point, in 
contact and directed along the same diagonal plane. 

Suppose, then, that we were to draw a plane 
diagram of the "family tree" of the entire human 
race, employing one dimension of the paper as 
Space and the other as Time 1. The result would 
be a network with numerous points of intersection 
representing marriages, and numerous branchings- 

* Maps from which it derives a common-to-all map of 
"point-events" separated by "intervals." 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH -TIME 201 

off representing births. And you would find that 
you could trace in that network an unbroken con- 
nection between any two points that you chose to 
select; human families are all related in that 
fashion. 

If we were to assume that this diagram exhibited 
only the cerebra of the individuals concerned, it 
would be the first, stage 1, temporal extension in 
a Time analysis in which we were dealing with all 
human observers together, instead of with one 
alone. It would represent, therefore, in the second 
stage, the connected field 2's of all the observers 
concerned. 

Along the lines of this universal field 2 network 
there would travel the individual field i's. These 
last would be defined solely by the points where the 
lines in the travelling field 2 network intersected 
with corresponding lines in the similar but fixed 
network extending diagonally in Time 1 and 
Time 2, and composed of the connected diagonal 
reagents of the individuals in question. 

Here we may depart from the essentials of our 
discussion so far as to glance at a rather interesting 
question. Is this field 2 network, with wide Space- 
gaps between its lines, the nearest approach to a 
universal field 2; or is there a field 2 which fills 
all Space, including those gaps? 

Consider again the network of this universal, 
"family tree," cerebral substratum, a portion of 
which we may suppose to be exhibited, in perspec- 
tive, by the connected lines AB, BC, and BD in 

Fig- J 4- 

These three lines will endure upwards in Time 2 
in the forms of the planes AA'B'B, BB'C'C, and 
BB'D'D. These planes will be intersected by 
the respective reagents AE, EC, and ED', 



202 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 



and also by the respective field 2's (shown at 
the top of the figure, for simplicity) A'B', B'C, 
and B'D', constituting the portion of the field 2 
network A'B'C'D'. Now, it is plain enough that 
the lines of the field 2 network must conform to 
the shape of the substratum figure. If, for example, 
when the field 2 network is at the bottom of the 
figure, intervention alters the trend of the sub- 
stratum lines, so that B'C' and B'D' depart from 




Fig. 14. 



each other at a narrower angle than do BC and BD, 
then the corresponding field 2 lines must close up 
to conform. Otherwise we should have no field i's 
at C and D' when the field 2 network arrived at 
the top of the figure. But this conforming of the 
field 2 lines to the changing shape of the sub- 
stratum figure can only be accounted for by regard- 
ing those lines as the intersections of that substratum 
with a universal, Space-filling field 2 such as is 
represented by efgh. Similarly, there must be a 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 203 

universal, Space-filling, diagonal reagent (not 
shown in the diagram, to avoid complications), 
whose intersections with the changeable substratum 
constitute the changeable individual reagents AE, 
EC', and ED 7 . And the place of intersection 
between this universal field 2 and this universal 
reagent must be a universal field 1, fk* 

But now we have to ascertain why it is that each 
of these deflectable lines where the deflectable 
substratum is intersected by the universal field 2 
should be conformed to throughout its deflections 
by a particular conscious observer 2 whose field 1 
attention cannot move outside that shifting line. 
For this individual observer, be it remembered, is 
not the substratum contents of his field. The 
analysis has shown that he is an independent 
entity, who consciously observes, and, in a rudi- 
mentary way,, interprets and thinks about, those 
substratum contents. Why, then, is he tied to 
them through all their spacial windings and through 
all their interventional changes in spacial position? 

" Obviously," it may be replied, "because 
a travelling ' field of presentation ' is merely a name 
for that part of an observable substratum which 
coincides with — is, so to say, covered by — the 
position of a travelling observer. The general, 
Space-filling field 2 is therefore the area covered 
by a general observer who observes everything that 
exists, and the individual conscious observers are 
merely places in that general observer where he 
happens to be intersected by those particular chang- 
ing parts of the substratum which are the complex 
cerebra of living organisms." 

* So far as I can see, this field, in Relativity theory, would 
be an absolute field travelling over the Relativitist's absolute 
substratum of point-events. 



204 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

We must admit that this is indisputable so far 
as it goes, and we may note that, since the reagents 
are conscious only where they are intersected by 
that universal observer, and since the lines of inter- 
section between the cerebral substrata and the uni- 
versal observer may change within the area occupied 
by that observer, he must be capable of conferring 
consciousness anywhere within that area. 

But all this does not completely answer our 
question. It tells us that the individual observers 
are merely parts of the general observer, but it does 
not plainly tell us why they are individual. 

It is clear that the only things which confer indi- 
viduality on those parts of the general observer 
which happen to be intersected by changing lines 
in the general network of the cerebral substratum 
are . . . those changing cerebral lines. Now, we have 
seen that the ultimate thinker in the series pertain- 
ing to each individual observer is learning to think 
in terms of mechanical brain-thinking. So the 
general observer must be, throughout his Space- 
filling area, the unknown element which lies at the 
bottom of consciousness and mind, and he is differ- 
entiating himself in certain widely separated places 
as a connected network of individual thinkers. We 
shall see, in a moment, what that implies. 

But first we must note that the universal field i, 
to which we referred earlier, will be, of course, the 
field i of the universal, Space-filling observer; 
for he must be just as serial as are the individual 
observers. He, with them, — for they are parts of 
him, — must be traceable up the series to one super- 
lative general observer at infinity. 

We may note here that the individual conscious 
observer comes into existence when the universal 
field i of this superlative observer reaches that 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 205 

point in the network of the cerebral substratum (a 
" point-event ")' where the individual's body-line (a 
changeable line of probabilities) becomes distinct 
from the parent stem. 

Now, since the field 2 of this superlative general 
observer embraces the Time 1 extension of the 
whole genealogically connected cerebral substratum, 
his attention must be capable of traversing that 
network throughout its whole Time 1 length. 

Again, since he is the provider of consciousness 
to all those parts of himself which constitute the 
individual observers at infinity — and so the provider 
of their conscious observation — and since those 
individuals have, as we have ascertained, that 
ability to intervene which is a function of concen- 
trated conscious observation (attention), we must 
regard this superlative observer as the ultimate 
provider of the individual's ability to intervene. 

We may sum up, therefore, by saying that this 
superlative general observer is the fount of all that 
consciousness, intention, and intervention which 
underlies mere mechanical thinking; and that he, 
in his intersections with the cerebral substrata, is 
incarnate in all mundane conscious life-forms, in 
every dimension of Time ; and that he must — owing 
to the unity of the network thus formed in himself 
and the ability of his attention to range over that 
network's full extent — contain in himself a distinct 
personification of all genealogically connected 
conscious life. And we may add that this " personi- 
fication " must be capable of thinking on a scale 
rendered ampler than ours by the immense Time- 
range and Space-range of his field 2, and by the 
immense length of his experience as an "ultimate 
thinker" in that field. 

We have wandered from our main task into what 



206 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

appears to be a region for exploration by the 
theologian. Let us leave it to him (he will find an 
extraordinary number of dicta which fit the case), 
and get back to our proper business. 

# # # # * 

Disciples of 'Nietzsche will note that cyclic-return 
theories (whether these be justified or unjustified) take 
on very different aspects when viewed in the light of 
Serialism. Assuming, for the sake of argument, that a 
return to some past configuration of the universe of matter 
occurs, it no longer follows that such return is a recom- 
mencement of a cycle similar to that which we are actually 
experiencing now. For intervention can operate towards 
the avoidance of unsatisfactory configurations. One 
result of such interference with the purely automatic 
sequence of events would be, of course, to increase 
enormously the length of the cycle. But the most im- 
portant effect would be the -shortening of this longest 
possible cycle into one which the interveners — general and 
particular — regarded as satisfactory. 

Then, again, it must be borne in mind that similar 
corporeal configurations separated in Time i would 
pertain to different observer 2*s — to different souls. (This 
would have pleased Marion Crawford.) And if there were 
repetitions, in Time 2, of the four-dimensional configura- 
tions of one of these observer 2's, those repetitions would, 
by analogy, pertain to different observer 3's (parts of our 
originally considered individual observer 3, in the same 
way that observer 2*s separated in Time 1 are parts of a 
general observer of the field 2 network). And so on to 
infinity. 

# # # # # 

This book is not intended to be anything more 
than a general introduction to Serialism as a theory 
of the universe. Every such theory must have its 
psychological, its physical, its theological, and its 
teleological aspects. At each of these we have 
glanced briefly, yet long enough to show us how 
large and how promising is the field for investigation 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 207 

opened up by the new method of analysis. But 
exploration proper in these several regions has been 
regarded throughout as the province of specialists 
more directly concerned. 

The man-in-the-street, however, will expect 
something in the nature of a summarized statement 
as to how he is to regard Serialism as affecting him- 
self. Such statements are not always advisable—- 
for reasons which will be clear enough to the judici- 
ally minded. But, in the present case, all the points 
which do directly affect the man-in-the-street have 
had to be touched upon in the course of the book, 
since it so happened that none of these points could 
be omitted from consideration without breaking off 
the argument at a critical place and leaving the 
theory, so-to-say, in the air. There can be no harm 
in summarizing in one place what has already been 
said in odd paragraphs throughout preceding pages. 

Putting it roughly, then, I should say : 

1. Serialism discloses the existence of a reason- 
able kind of "soul " — an individual soul which has 
a definite beginning in absolute Time — a soul whose 
immortality, being in other dimensions of Time, 
does not clash with the obvious ending of the indi- 
vidual in the physiologist's Time dimension, and 
a soul whose existence does not nullify the physio- 
logist's discovery that brain activity provides the 
formal foundation of all mundane experience and 
of all associative thinking. 

2. It shows that the nature of this soul and of its 
mental development provides us with a satisfactory 
answer to the " why " of evolution, of birth, of pain, 
of sleep, and of death. 

3. It discloses the existence of a superlative 
general observer, the fount of all that consciousness, 
intention, and intervention which underlies mere 



208 AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 

mechanical thinking, who contains within himself 
a less generalized observer who is the personifica- 
tion of all genealogically related life and who is 
capable of human-like thinking and prevision of a 
kind quite beyond our individual capabilities. In 
the superlative observer we individual observers, 
and that tree of which we are the branches, live 
and have our being. But there is no coming 
" absorption " for us ; we are already absorbed, and 
the tendency is towards differentiation. 

4. It points to the existence of a common-to-all 
field 1 filling all Space (not incompatible with Rela- 
tivity theory). This would provide us with, at any 
rate, the primary essential for the production of 
anything in the nature of real telepathic inter-com- 
munication. Moreover, the inter-connection of the 
lines in the tree-like field 2 network seems to pro- 
vide another kind of possibility in this respect. 



INDEX 



PART I 



After-impression, 12, 19, 20, 22 
Animism, 12, 13, 17, 26 
Association, 10, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27 
Attention, 16, 17, 23, 24, 27 
Automaton, 13 

Baldwin, Mark, 25, 27 
Body and mind, 12, 13 
Brain, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11. 12, 13, 

15, 16, 17, 24, 26 
Breathing, 16 

Cinema, 12 

Colour, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 18, 19, 

20 
Concept, 26, 27 
Concussion, 10 
Correlate, 10 

Dimension, 20 
Disposition, 17 
Dreams, 14, 25, 26 

Event, 21 

External reality, 11, 19, 25 

Field of consciousness, 15 
Field of presentation, 15, 16, 17 

Generic image, 22, 23, 24, 27 

Heat, 9 



Idea, 23, 26, 27 

Idealist, 12 

Ideas, train of, 21, 22, 24 

Illusion, 6 

Image, 17, 18, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 

26, 27; generic, 22, 23, 24, 27 
Impression, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22 

26; after-, 12, 19, 20, 22 
Integration, 25 
Intervention, 13, 17 



McDougall, William, 13 

Materialism, 26 

Mechanism, 9 

Memory, 10, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 

25, 26 
Metaphysics, 10, 12 
Mind, mental, 8, 21, 23, 25, 28 
Mind and body, 12, 13 

Nerve, neural, 3, 7, 9, 10, 12, 13, 
17, 18, 25, 26 

Observer, observation, 11, 12, 13, 

16, 17, 18 
Order, 21 

Parallelism, io, 12, 26 

Particle, 5, 7 

Phenomena, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 15, 

16, 18, 19, 20, 25, 28 
Physics, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 
Physiology, 16, 17, 24 
Presentation, 15, 16, 17; field of, 

15, 16, 17 
Pressure, 16 
Proof, 27 

Psychical, 8, 9, 10, 12, 16, 26 
Psychology, 8, 12, 15, 17, 19, 27 
Psychoneural, 10, 12, 26 

Realist, 12 

Reality, external, 11, 19, 25 

Reason, 25 



Science, 3, 8, 11, 13, 16, 27 
Sense, sensory, sensation, 7, 8, 9, 

10, 18 
Smell, 7, 8 
Soul, 13, 14 
Sound, 6, 7, 8, 9, 16, 19 
Spectra, 12 
Succession, 21 
Survival, 13 
209 14 



2IO 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 



Taste, 7, 9 

Thinking, 10 

Time, 10 

Train of ideas, 21, 22, 24 

Universe, 7, 8, 11, 14 



Vision, visual, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 
12, 15, 18, 19, 20, 22 

Ward, James, 5, 19, 22 
Waves, electromagnetic, 3, 5, 9 
Will, 18 



PART II 



" Astral-wandering," 29, 37, 41 

" Clairvoyance," 29, 31, 32, 37, 
41 

Dreams, examples of: 

Aeroplane accident, 44 et seq. 
Cape to Cairo expedition, 32 

et seq. 
Factory fire, 39 et seq. 
" Flying Scotsman," 46, 47 
Horse, 41 et seq. 
Martinique, 34 et seq. 
War, 47 



Dreams, examples of (continued) : 

Watch, 29 et seq., 43 
Dreams on wrong nights, 43 

Identifying paramnesia, 37, 39, 

41 
Impressions, 43 

" Messages from dead or dying," 

29, 37. 4i. 44 
Percepts, 43 

Telepathy, 38, 41 

Time, displacement in, 44 



PART III 



Abnormality, 49, 54, 57, 75 
Association, formation of, antici- 
pated in dream, 90 
Associational network, 54, 76 et 
seq., 82, 88 

Barrier between past and future, 
54. 87. 88 

Coincidence, 50, 51, 59, 60, 61, 68 

Detail, importance of, 60, 64, 

65; corroborative, 60, 63 
Dreams, examples of: 

Combination lock, 50, 51 

Corwen meetings, 71, 72 

Cows and gate, 69 

" Dunne " aeroplane, 79, 80, 81 

Fractured leg, 52 

General Leman, 74 

" German spy," 70 

Ladder, 73 

Lion-shooting, 77, 78 

Painted boat, 72 

Scooter, 78, 79 

Secret loft, 67, 68 

Silvertown explosion, 51 



Dreams, examples of (continued) : 
Sparks, 62 
Spilled ink, 76, 77 
Two men and a dog, 67 
Washing sails, 73 
Wasp, 89, 90 

Dreams, recalled by waking events, 
52, 53, 56; leading up to the 
cause of waking, 53 ; associated 
with' coming personal experi- 
ences, 53; composition of, 54, 
59; forgetting of, 50, 51, 56, 
64, 65; difficulty of associating 
with subsequent event, 62, 63; 
range of, 82 

" Happening before," 53, 75 

Images, proportion of past to 

future in dreams, 54; 82 
Integration, 63, 69, 90 

" Present moment," travelling, 
54 

Relativity, 76 



INDEX TO PART III 



211 



Society for Psychical Research, 

53 
Space-time, 50 

Time, as fourth dimension, 49, 54 ; 
without parts, 50; " mixed," 50; 



unidimensional, 57 ; absolute, 
57; order, 62; man's relation- 
ship to, 68; two-dimensional, 
76 

Waking experiments, 83 et seq. 



PART IV 



Analytical devices, 116 



Bergson, 114, 117, 118, 119, 120, 

121 
Brain states, their relation to 

future, 93, 94 

Clocks, travelling in, or extending 
in time, in 

D'Alembert, 99 

Dimension, 99; definition of, 100, 
101 

Economy of hypotheses, 117, 119 
Eddington's views, 109 
Einstein's theory, 108 
Events, 113; objective, observed 

in succession, 114, 115, 116 
Explanation, limiting conditions 

of our, 91, 92 
Extension, prior to dimensions, 

106, 107, 108, 109, no 

Field of observation, travelling, 
961 97. 98, 100, 104, no, 114, 
115, 116 

Freewill, 92 

Hinton's theory, 99 et seq. 
Hypotheses, economy of, 117, 119 

Intervention, 91, 92 

Man-in-the-street's notion, 95 et 

seq. 
Matter,, in relativity theory, 112 
Memory train, ends at present 

moment, 92 ; in Bergson's theory, 

121 
Minkowski's world, 108 



Motion, absolute and apparent, 

103, 104 

Observer, indefinite in Relativity, 

no, in 
Observer's world-line, 107, 108, 

109, no, in; direction of, 108, 

109 no, 114 
Order, 98; yet disorder I, 91 

Parallelism, psychoneural, 92 
Premises adopted by author, 113, 
114; by reader in alj practical 
questions involving time, 116 

" Reality," relativity of, 92 ; time's 

length as, 116 
Relativity, 93, 108, 109, no, in, 

112, 114 

Space-time, 97, 106, 107, 108 et 
seq. 

Successive observation of objec- 
tive events (see " Field of 
observation ") 

Target illustration, 93, 94 

Time, infinite regress of, 96, 104, 

108, in, 120; models of, 97, 

98; origin of conception or 

perception of, 98, 99; empty, 

104, 105, 114; as an analytical 
device, 116; as a growing 
"past," 117, 118, 119, 120, 121 

" Time machine," 106, 107, 108 
Terms, questions and answers in, 

116 
Track, 109, no, in, 112 

Wells's theory, 106, 107, 108 
Wildon Carr, 120, 121 
World-line, 99, 102, 103, 104, 106, 
107, 108, 109 et seq., 114, 115 



212 



AN EXPERIMENT WITH TIME 



PART V 



Action, 1,59, 192 et sea.; and 
probability, EddingWs iden- 
tification, 195 

Animus, 164 

Attention, movable within field 
of presentation, 128, 134, 135, 
145, 146; serial law of, 154, 159, 
161, 162, 178, 179; dream 
wandering of, 159, 160, 161, 
168, 169; a matter of habit, 
161, 162, 171, 176; and in- 
tensity, 169, 170; and intelli- 
gibility, 177; why habitually 
directed to field 1, 176, 177; 
employed in intervention, 167, 
178, 179, 184; connection with 
"context," 173, 174; of the 
superlative and the synthetic 
observers, 205, 208 

Association, serialism in, 168, 
172. 173. 174 

Birth of conscious individual, 204, 

205 
Brain as teacher of the mind, 175, 

176, 204 

Consciousness, serialism of, 155, 
156, 157; law of, 153; self-, 157; 
provided by superlative ob- 
server, 204, 205, 207 

Context, 173, 174 

Crawford, Marion, 206 

Death, 162, 163; value of, 180, 181 
Disagreeableness, discomfort, 169, 

170 
Dream effect, explanation of, 159, 

160, 161 
Dreams, ordinary, 166 et seq.; 

waking interferences with, 168, 

169; of savages, 164 

Eddington, 127, 193, 194, 195, 

196 
Endurance of phenomena, 130; 

of ultimate physical correlates, 

131 
Evolution, 176 

Field of presentation, definition 
of, 145, 146; law of serial field, 
151; as necessary starting- 



point, 128, 129; fixed with 
regard to observer, 128, 136; a 
unique place in any temporal 
dimension, 131, 132, 134 

Field 1, interferences with dreams, 
168, 169; space-filling, 198, 203, 
204 

Field 2, space-filling, 201 et seq.; 
network of individual observers 
in, 200 et seq. 

Fields of different observers, how 
related, 199 et seq. 

" Freewill," 179 

Frequency, 159 

Habit, 161, 162, 171; referable 
to ultimate observer, 175 ; origin 
of attention to field 1, 176, 177 

Half -steps in the analysis, 131, 
133. 134 

Incarnation (see "Observer, syn- 
thetic ") 

Integration, 168 

Intensity of sensation dependent 
upon concentration, 169, 170 

Interpretations (see " Meanings ") 

Intervention, 167, 177, 178, 179, 
182 et seq., 199, 202, 205, 207; 
empirical proof of, 165 

Jones, 186 et seq. 

Law of serial fields, 151; of 
serial observer and serial con- 
sciousness, 151, 152, 153; of 
serial attention, 154 

McDougall, William, 173, 174 

McKendrick, 176 

Materialism, 136 

Meanings, 168, 171, 172, 173, 

*74. 175. 177. 180 
Memory, serialism of, 166, 171, 

172. 173 
Mind, education of, 175, 176, 204; 

serialism of, 177, 178 
Moore, J. S., 173, 174 
Motion, apparent, 127, 128, 129, 

131. 133. 134. 135. 167 



INDEX TO PART V 



213 



Network, field 2, of individual 

observers, 200 et seq. 
Nietzsche's " return " theory, 206 

Observer, serial, law of, 151, 152, 
153; as thinker, 185, 186, 190, 

- 191 ; synthetic, embracing all 
individual observers and con- 
tained in superlative observer, 
205, 208; superlative, space : 
filling, 203 et seq. 

Observers, different individual, 
how their fields are related, 
199 et seq. 

Pain, 169, 170; as educative 

agent by attracting attention 

to field 1, 177 
Path, absolute, 151, 185, 198 
Physics, serialism in, 195, 196 
Probability, 185, 193, 194; Edding- 

ton's identification with action, 

194, 195, 196 

Quantum, 192 et seq. 

Railway train illustrations, 127, 

128 
Reagent, definition of, 141, 142; 

temporal endurance of number 

i, 140, 149; serialism of, 150, 

155. 191 
Reagent 1, universal, space-filling, 

203 
Relation, between terms of a 

series, 123, 124, 142, 147, 162, 

163, 190, 191 ; between different 

observers' fields, 199 et seq. 
Relativity, 131, 132, 133, 192, 

197, 198; problem treated 

serially, 198 
" Return theory," 206 



Serialism, 197, 198, 200, 206 
Series, definition of, 123; relation 
between terms of , 123, 124, 142, 
147, 162, 163, 190, 191 ; first- 
term of, is lop-sided, 124, 162, 
163; " Chinese boxes " type of, 

151 
Sleep, value to mind, 180, 181 
Space dimensions, criterion of, 

137, 143, 144 
Space, serial, 139, 144, 148 
Superlative observer, 203 et seq. 
Super-observer (see Synthetic 

observer) 
Survival, 162, 163 
Synthetic observer, 205, 208 

Thinker (thinking), 165, 166, 168, 
171, 172, 173, 174, 175, 176, 
180, 182, 184; ultimate, 185, 
186, 190, 191; and superlative 
observer, 204 ct seq. ; of syn- 
thetic observer, 205, 208 

Time, activity of or in, involves 
infinite regress, 124, 125; neg- 
lect to examine regress of, 124, 
125; our awareness of, 157, 158; 
absolute, 151 

Time dimension, definition of, 
136, 137, 143; travelling in, takes 
absolute time, 124, 137, 148; 
in one term is space dimension 
in the next, 139, 144, T48; 
arrangement of time dimensions 
in series differs from arrange- 
ment in parallel, 143 

Waking experiment, 161; as 
evidence of possibility of " free- 
will," 179 



Billing and Sons Ltd., Printers, Guildford and Esher 



SOME PRESS NOTICES OF THE FIRST EDITION 

H. G. Wells in The Sunday Express. 

... I find it a fantastically interesting book. It has stirred my 
imagination vividly, and I think most imaginative people will be 
stirred by the queer things he has advanced in it. I do not think 
it has yet been given nearly enough attention. 

The Outline. 

The day may come — will probably come — when the world will 
consider this as the most important book of our age. There are 
many people even now. who say that it will revolutionize our atti- 
tude towards the world we live in much as did the " Origin of 
Species." 

The Observer. 

It is no use for Mr. Dunne to hide his light under the bushel of 
his title : for his bushel contains full measure of well-observed 
fact ... an admirably clean and bright statement of both his data 
and his reasoning. 

C. E. M. Joad in The Spectator. 

Exceedingly well, even wittily written ... it can be recom- 
mended to everybody who wishes to learn how to anticipate his 
own future. 

Oxford Magazine. 

Mr. Dunne is a writer of great charm and humour — admirable 
qualities in a metaphysician; and his knowledge of the subject is 
surely as great as his knowledge of the stability of aeroplanes. 

Prof. Hyman Levy in Nature. 

A careful, sane experimenter quite alive to the dangers and 
pitfalls that may beset an observer in a strange field. ... If this 
work is not a practical joke, and it does not sound like it, and if 
the author is sane, and there is ample contributory evidence of 
this, the subject *he has opened up ought to be examined. 

The Times. 

The statements are of so serious and remarkable a character that 
it is certainly worth while for a large number of people to carry 
out the necessary experiments . . . whatever we may think of Mr. 
Dunne's own philosophy of Time it is certain that something 
almost equally strange is necessary to account for his results. 



Dr. F. C. S. Schiller, F.B.A., in The Hibbert Journal. 

This is a book well calculated to flutter the dovecotes, or rather 
rookeries, of the philosophers ... he has raised stimulating ques- 
tions with which any philosophy which is not utterly effete should 
feel it its duty to grapple. 

Prof. J. L. Stocks in The London Mercury. 

The sensation of the past philosophical year was undoubtedly 
Mr. Dunne's " Experiment with Time." The book was not only 
surprising and provocative in its conclusions; it surprised not less 
by the skill with which it unfolded and developed its thesis. It 
certainly provided the best reading which the philosophical public 
has enjoyed for several years. . . . We hope we have not heard 
the last of Mr. Dunne. 

The Warrington Examiner. 

This is an enthralling book ... is within the range of thou- 
sands of readers of moderate education and intelligence ... it is 
a delightful book to read. Whether we have here a new Descartes 
or not, the possibility that we have forbids us to ignore Mr. Dunne. 

The Times of India. 

One of the most momentous books of the present era. ..." An 
Experiment with Time " produces in the reader such a sense of 
exaltation that one feels on the verge of a "new birth. ... It is 
typical of, but in advance of, much that has been written in recent 
years from Bergson and Einstein to Eddington and J. W. Sullivan. 

TWO AMERICAN PRESS NOTICES 
Saturday Review of Literature. 

So startling in its apparent conclusions and in its nature so 
unusal that I fear it may be passed over as pseudo-science by those 
who look only at its jacket. ... I have given it to two experts 
who have confirmed my own quite unofficial view that it is as 
important as it is surprising. 

The Times (New York). 

It will probably take more than one reading for the student to 
familiarize himself with the new and vast horizons opened to his 
speculative gaze. But the effort will be well worth while. For in 
linking, by implication, Einstein with Berkeley, and the experi- 
mental physiologist with the believer in the immortality of the 
soul, the author of " An Experiment with Time " has evolved a 
" Weltanschauung " profoundly stirring and fascinating in its im- 
plications. 





H| 


AN 


EXPERIMENT 


f : WITH 


TIME 




9 ■■:■ 


I.W.DUNNE. 




SECOND 
EDITION 


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BLACK 




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